Georgetown became the record 55th consecutive victim of the University of Connecticut’s legendary women’s basketball program, succumbing to the Huskies 72-49 in a weak offensive battle in front of a sold-out crowd in Hartford last Saturday.

The 16,294 fans that filled the Hartford Civic Center watched the home team and defending national champions take down another opponent in a streak stretching back to late 2001.

“It was exciting playing in front of that big a crowd, especially as a freshman never having experienced anything like that,” freshman forward Carmen Bruce said, “but you have to block it out, play hard and not pay attention to what the other team is trying to do, in this case make history.”

Despite poor shooting, UConn (currently No. 2 in both polls) dominated the boards early, controlling the ball and pleasing the fans with an 8-1 run in the first seven minutes. Turnovers and lackluster shooting did not help the Hoya cause either.

Soon, though, Georgetown managed to overcome their problems and briefly broke through the high-pressure defense to narrow the gap to three at 8-5. UConn returned, though, and junior forward Diana Taurasi, the only returning starter from last year’s undefeated team, demonstrated her All-American skills by nailing several three-pointers to distance the Huskies from their opponents. The home team’s aggressive play in sophomore center Jessica Moore and freshman forward Barbara Turner’s strong rebounding kept Georgetown from catching up to its adversary.

After 12 minutes had passed in the game, the Huskies looked to be on their way to a new record with a commanding 20-5 lead over the visiting team. Senior forward Zsuzsanna Horvath helped resuscitate the flagging Hoyas’ offense with two jumpers to bring the score to 21-9. The two teams then reached a stalemate as the defenses fought hard to keep their opponents away from the hoop, and both teams hit a four-minute dry spell.

Bruce broke the silence on offense with a layup that put Georgetown within 10, but UConn had the last say in the half, scoring eight points in the last three minutes. When the teams left for the locker room, the Huskies had once again established themselves in control with a commanding 29-13 lead.

“The first half we had some looks, Brunson got it inside and it was a very physical game, but they made a point to take [sophomore guard] Mary Lisicky, out of the offense,” Head Coach Patrick Knapp said

Both teams showed grit on defense, playing into their opponents’ bodies and making them work for each basket. The Hoyas stunted their rivals’ offense effectively, limiting them to 6-for-33, or 18.2 percent from the floor. Georgetown hit 21.8 percent of its shots, but lost the battle for the boards as the home team grabbed 33 to Georgetown’s 17. Moore led the charge in the paint, pulling down 10 rebounds in the first half, twice as many as Georgetown’s top rebounder, junior forward Rebekkah Brunson. While the Hoyas prevented the home team from taking many shots, personal fouls helped the Huskies steal 14 points from the line.

“To hold Connecticut to 18 percent is pretty good and not many teams can do that,” Lisicky said. “We just need to capitalize on offense, and we weren’t doing that.”

Taurasi ruled on offense with 12 points, including two three-pointers and six free throws, while Georgetown’s top scorer Bruce could only muster six. Many of the Hoyas’ offensive woes stemmed from UConn’s effective shutdown of point guard Lisicky, who failed to score any points or attempt a shot from beyond the three-point stripe where she has shone in past games.

“We have an issue. If you’re going to put Mary [Lisicky] off the ball, you need a point guard who is as good as she is,” Knapp said. “If you’re going to put Mary on the ball, your wings have to score. Mary’s not going to get every shot in the world. She’s going to get it on the offense or off the contributions of other players.”

Georgetown started the second half with an assault on offense, sinking shots and cutting down the point deficit to nine, but still trailing 32-23. The Huskies countered with a tighter offense, holding Georgetown scoreless for two minutes while running up the score. UConn’s improved shooting from the first half coupled with more free points from the stripe helped the host team bury its opponents under a 26-point lead with 10:25 left in the game.

The Hoyas struggled to get back in the game but their opponents had put too much distance between them. Georgetown came closest at 6:04, when the team brought itself within 20 points, 60-41. In the end, UConn gave the large crowd a good reason to cheer with an authoritative 72-49 victory and a new record.

The Huskies tied Louisiana Tech’s 1980-82 record of 54 wins with a tough victory over Seton Hall on Jan. 15. Since then, the Georgetown game and a 72-53 thrashing of Notre Dame (coincidentally the last team to defeat UConn, on March 30, 2001 in the Final Four) have launched UConn into a league of its own with 56 victories, second in college basketball to John Wooden-era UCLA’s run of 88 games in the early 1970s.

Both teams ratcheted up their offenses with better shooting in the second half; UConn nailed 57.9 percent of its shots while Georgetown hit 47.6 percent. Neither team looked impressive from beyond the three-point line; the Hoyas could only find the basket from outside once. Both teams benefited from foul shooting; Georgetown sunk 15 baskets of 18 and the Huskies gleaned another 18 points from 25 personal fouls committed by their opponents. The 32 total points amassed from the foul line by UConn made up more than the difference in score between the two teams.

Taurasi owned the game, topping the scoring list with 22 points, including three from the three-point stripe and 9-of-10 free throws. She also pulled down eight rebounds, while Moore led both teams with 12 and freshman guard Ann Strother grabbed eight boards.

“I think we played very hard defensively against Connecticut. Some inexperience showed, particularly with Carmen against Taurasi. In the Connecticut matchups, the guards are huge. No matter what, that’s going to be a difficult matchup on Taurasi,” Knapp said.

Bruce led the Georgetown side with a career high 15 points, going 7-for-12 from the floor and Brunson pitched in with 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Horvath stepped up, adding eight points and Lisicky went 7-for-7 from the line.

“Our lack of offense has been a problem and its something we got to work on and get better at. However, our defensive pressure was strong and we were stopping them on defense,” Lisicky said.

Georgetown slipped to 11-3 for the season and 2-2 in the Big East. UConn extended this year’s undefeated record to 16-0 and 4-0 in the conference.

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