No. 3 UConn wins 21st straight over Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse was doing exactly what head coach Quentin Hillsman wanted against third-ranked Connecticut -- driving the lane and being active in its zone.

The strategy worked nicely for one half on Wednesday night as Connecticut's imposing players in the middle struggled. Iasia Hemingway scored 12 points for the Orange while sophomore center Stefanie Dolson missed all four of her shots around the basket and freshman Kiah Stokes was 1 of 4 for the Huskies.

Syracuse trailed 40-33 at the break, but in the end senior guard Tiffany Hayes proved to be too much, scoring a career-high 35 points as the Huskies pulled away with a 25-5 spurt to start the second half and won 95-54.

"I thought we got good looks," Hillsman said. "At the end of the day, it's about making shots. In the second half, we just kind of fell apart."

Syracuse was 8 of 33 (24.2 percent) shooting in the second half and finished 19 of 62 (30.6 percent).

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points and eight rebounds and Bria Hartley added 18 points for Connecticut, which had 24 points off Syracuse's 17 turnovers and outscored the Orange 21-6 on the fastbreak.

Connecticut (18-2, 7-1 Big East) won its sixth straight overall and beat Syracuse (13-8, 2-5) for the 21st straight time.

The Huskies were coming off an 88-44 win at then-No. 21 DePaul on Saturday night. Connecticut's previous five wins were by an average of 44.5 points and Syracuse, despite that gritty first half, simply became the next team to get steamrolled.

Hemingway led Syracuse with 15 points and Carmen Tyson-Thomas had 11.

The Huskies shot 12 of 25 from beyond the arc, outrebounded Syracuse 45-34 and shot two more free throws than the Orange, who lead the nation in rebounding and free throws made and attempted.

"We came out and knew they were going to make a run and they did. We just didn't answer," Hillsmsan said. "We just can't come out in the second half and not score. They got a lot of open looks. They did a very good job of breaking our pressure in the second half and really getting the ball moving. They did a very good job of getting the ball reversed and getting deep corner looks."

At the outset, it was Syracuse who turned some heads, bolting to an 18-11 lead on Kayla Alexander's layup at 13:55. Hayes took control from there, scoring seven points in a 9-0 spurt, her fastbreak layup giving the Huskies a 20-18 lead just over 2 minutes later.

The score was tied three more times, but the Huskies never trailed again.

After Shakeya Leary's pullup jumper in the lane tied it at 24-all, Connecticut ratcheted up the intensity with a press, and the Orange got frazzled. They committed four turnovers, missed two shots and had another blocked as the Huskies held them off the scoreboard for more than 4 minutes.

Hartley's three-point play broke the tie and began a 16-4 run capped by a steal and fastbreak layup by Hayes with 74 seconds left in the period. That gave UConn a 40-30 lead, but the Orange weren't ready to wilt just yet.

Carmen Tyson-Thomas corralled a missed free throw by Leary, passed to Rachel Coffey in the left corner, and she swished a 3 to send Syracuse into the locker room trailing just 40-33 despite 19 points by Hayes.

"We said coming in here that Syracuse leads the country in rebounds and the game was going to be decided somewhere in the lane -- either their ability to get to the rim and shoot free throws or our ability to keep them away from there and force them into a jump-shooting team," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "In the first half our big guys were really not very good and they ended up getting to the rim, getting to the free throw line. They kept us from doing what we wanted in the lane, so we became a jump-shooting team. I said that's going to change."

It did.

Alexander's hook to start the second half moved the Orange within five, but the Huskies responded with a flurry of 3s to take control.

Hayes started the decisive spurt by hitting from long range on the right wing. Mosqueda-Lewis followed with a 3 from the same spot. After consecutive three-point plays by Hartley and Hayes, Hayes matched her career high with her sixth 3-pointer of the game. Her long, wide-open shot from the top of the key gave UConn a 61-40 lead with 14:26 left.