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UConn Dismisses Sacred Heart 86-32: Putting Moore's All-Time Scoring Record In Perspective

This game was essentially over when it was scheduled some time last year.  

Then it was literally over with 8:47 left in the first half - that is when UConn scored its 33rd and 34th points of the game.

Sacred Heart could only muster 32 points for the entire game falling to the Huskies 86-32 at the XL Center, in front of 10,223 people.

There was no doubt about it: Sacred Heart was outmanned in this gun fight. Yet they never gave up. They never hung their heads and did the best they could against a superior opponent. But this was just not their night.

This night belonged to Maya Moore and her UConn Huskies.  

Moore was as effervescent as ever, while being offensively efficient as could be.

Moore made her first 8 shots from the field, including a jumper with 12:42 left in the first half, on a pass from her roommate, Lorin Dixon.

It was fitting that this jumper was assisted by Dixon. It is Dixon after all, that has been by her side on a glorious 4-year 122-2 so far. So it's appropriate that Lorin is the one that puts Moore at the top of the all time scoring record for the Connecticut Huskies.

The UConn fans responded with what they are known for, an extended, rousing standing ovation that lasted from the moment the basket hit the bottom of the net later until a time out by the Pioneers allowed the public address announcer to make the official announcement minutes later.

"That was special," Moore said. "That's part of the reason I love Connecticut so much. The love that we get from the fans, and I'm happy that it was able to happen at home, for them to celebrate like that. I give them credit. They should get one of my assists. It was just really fun."

As much as the Connecticut media has been harping on this record, it wasn't weighing heavily on the senior's mind.

"The only thing I can really say that I've really thought about as far as the record goes is just being appreciative to be able to play as many games as I have here," Moore said. "I'm just happy that I was able to come in and get a lot of minutes as a freshman and sophomore and junior year to come in and start and contribute because all of that builds up to putting points up."

Maya Moore has not only collected points she has gathered many fans along the way. Included in that is Sacred Heart's head coach, Ed Swanson.

"(You notice) How hard she plays on every play," said Swanson. "She's like the Kobe Bryant of women's basketball, I think. She's going to do the same thing on the next level."

The moment was also not lost on her teammates either.

"I was just so glad to be on the floor when she did it," said Tiffany Hayes who led UConn with 18 points. "That just made me even more proud. I took a picture when we got back to the locker room so I can remember the moment forever."

Even Auriemma was surprisingly sentimental.

"To be able to just be in a position to do that is pretty incredible," Auriemma said. "When you think about how many players have played here and how hard it is to score that many points, and it's not like guys are playing 35 minutes, 38 minutes every night. So it makes it even more meaningful."

Although the record was the talk of the night - as well as the football team's win to give them a bid to a BCS game - I left with another lasting impression. While UConn's offensive prowess is well noted and deservedly so, it is their defense that should get credit for this win.

Yes, UConn shot 59% for the game, after shooting an unfathomable 74.2% in the first. Yes, there were 4 players in double figures including Moore's 17, Hayes with 18, Bria Hartley and Samarie Walker with 11 each.  However, it is their defense that shines brightest.

UConn's defense is best described as a group of swarming insects: they pressure, they contest, and on the rare occasion that someone gets beat, someone else steps over and helps. It's annoying to say the least, to opponents that is.

They limited SHU to 22% shooting, forced 17 turnovers, had 20 steals, and genuinely took Sacred Heart out of anything that they wanted to do. To Swanson that was the difference in the game.

"I knew losing (Caroline) Doty was a big hit for them but just watching film, the energy that they play with on defense (is impressive)," Swanson said. "They push you out. They're physical. They take you out of everything. They're doing this with 2 freshmen in the starting lineup. The energy that he (Auriemma) has them playing with on defense just takes you out of a lot of things that you want to do."

Twin Towers

UConn sported a different look for part of the first half. Stefanie Dolson saw action as the same time with Heather Buck.  

"It's hard to evaluate (them playing together) because the kids that we're playing against don't present that much of a challenge inside," Auriemma said. "From a defensive standpoint I think it was good, because they had to get out on the perimeter and play, move their feet, do all the stuff that I think will help them down the road. It's just another experiment by us to see how far we can go with certain things. We're limited as to who we can have out there with who so it was good for us to get that look. We'll see what happens when we play against a bigger team and see how they do."

What makes this interesting is that both centers are fairly mobile but you have to have a 6'4 or 6'5" player guard a smaller more mobile power forward or guard, most of which can hit from the perimeter. UConn got burned on this in the first half when Dolson failed to get out on Sacred Heart's Callan Taylor, who drained a 3.

A Work in Progress

Lauren Engeln is often the forgotten member of UConn's heralded freshman class.

Engeln made a little whisper last night when she had a career high of 8 points, on 3-4 shooting, against Sacred Heart while playing 15 minutes. She added 2 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers.

"She had a really good day at practice yesterday and a really good day at shootaround and it followed," coach Auriemma said. "The impact that Lauren will have as we move forward remains to be seen."

She is starting to understand the hard work it takes in practices but how big of an impact that she has depends on her improvement over the season.

Not seeing ample time this season as well is freshman forward, Michala Johnson. She has been slowed by her time away from the sport due to ACL injuries in each knee.

"It is difficult at times," Johnson said. "It is more mentally frustrating for me because I haven't played in so long so I am still trying to adjust to things. Other than that it is just staying focused, keep working hard, and keep cheering my teammates on. It is like what Coach says: it is not about me, it is about the whole team. I feel like I have to continue to work hard and be there for my teammates."

Johnson didn't score but collected 3 rebounds and a block.

Huskies next jump ball is Thursday against Marquette at 7:30 PM.