Huskies Hustle Cincinnati

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Cincinnati kept the contest manageable against No. 2 Connecticut for 20 minutes before digging too deep of a hole Saturday.


UConn (20-1, 8-0 Big East) defeated the Bearcats 80-46 at Fifth Third Arena in front of 3,422 fans. 


The Huskies went on a 13-0 run out of the halftime break to put away UC nearly doubling their 16-point lead.


"I thought in the first half we put forward a tremendous effort, head coach Jamelle Elliott said. "We played hard. We dove on loose balls. Every 50-50 ball we basically came up with. The second half we came out a little sluggish."


Cincinnati didn't score their first points of the second half until the 12:11 mark. Freshman Lashay Banks hit two free throws in UC's first trip to the charity stripe. 


UConn senior forward Maya Moore came into the game second in the nation in scoring with just more than 24 a game, netted 23 including 19 opening-half points. 


"[Moore] is what everybody says what she says she is," junior guard Bjonee Reaves said.


Freshman guard Kayla Cook led the team with 13 points--10 in the first half on 4-6 shooting. Senior Shareese Ulis added 12 points and knocked down a 3-pointer for the 22nd straight game.


"[Cooks' scoring] was obviously encouraging it took a little bit of pressure off Ulis," Elliott said. "I always worry when [Ulis] isn't having a good game. It's good to know you can have some others step up. In the past I didn't know who that would be."


For Reaves the opponent didn't faze her, she came off the bench and scored UC's first seven points. 


"We looked at it as going against another team," Reaves said. "We try to not to look at the name of team on the front of the jersey. It's like going against another team in the Big East. I was just trying to give us a spark. Come in and help us out."


The Bearcats started three first-year players for the third game in a row as they gain valuable minutes in the nation's least forgiving conference. 


"I think it's huge for them to get experience as freshman, Elliott said. "Hopefully we can win some more games this season, but it's going to give those guys an idea of what they are going to have to compete against next year. They had a real awakening of what the Big East is all about."


UC dropped their sixth-consecutive contest with four of those coming against ranked opponents.


The Huskies dominated the paint with a 42-10 scoring margin. UC settled for 29 shots from behind the arc as they found it difficult to penetrate UConn's zone.


"Just like [Auriemma] told me, 'We've got to drive to the basket more,' Elliott said." 


Elliott, who spent 16 years with UConn, tries to use the benchmark that they set with their blue-collar approach and apply it to her current squad according to leading scorer Ulis.


"[Elliott's] main focus is [UConn's] effort," Ulis said. "They compete and play hard for 40 minutes. That's what she tries to instill in us. Everyday she tries to put us in situations where we're uncomfortable to make us better in situations we may encounter in the game." 


UConn's full-court press disreputed Cincinnati's flow in the first five minutes as Connecticut built a 13-3 lead while burying their first three 3-pointers.


The Huskies are 6-0 all-time against the Cats and captured their 59-straight win in Big East action including postseason play.


UConn head coach Geno Auriemma still has a sense of nostalgia when facing her former assistant and player.


"It'll always be different, Auriemma said. "It's very difficult to [play her]. I hope one day I'm still coaching when the tables are turned. When we come in here and they have expectations to win."


Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip.



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