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UConn tops West Virginia for 61st straight win

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Kalana Greene scored 18 points to help top-ranked Connecticut overcome a sluggish first half and beat No. 11 West Virginia 80-47 on Tuesday night for its 61st straight victory.

Maya Moore added 15 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for UConn (22-0, 9-0 Big East), which is only nine wins short of the NCAA and school record of 70 straight wins. The Huskies are on pace to equal that mark in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament and break it in the semis.

UConn only led by eight at the half, but used a 24-3 run during the first part of the second half to put the game away.

Sarah Miles scored 14 points and Liz Repella added 13 for West Virginia (20-3, 7-2), which matched its highest ranking ever this week. The Mountaineers have only beaten Connecticut once in 22 tries and that came back in 1982 before Geno Auriemma was at the helm of the Huskies.

UConn had been dominating conference play winning by an average of nearly 39 points a game with virtually every Big East game decided at the half. South Florida had been the only team to stay within 20 of the Huskies in the first half, and that was a 14-point deficit.

West Virginia did its best to stay with the top-ranked team. The Mountaineers slowed the game down, walking the ball up the court and taking time off the shot clock and found themselves only down 32-24 at the break.

It was UConn's lowest-scoring first half of the season and just the third time that it didn't have a double-digit lead by the half.

The Huskies seemed out of sorts on offense. They made terrific backdoor cuts for wide open layups, but missed them. They also turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 10 times.

Even when UConn built a 28-15 lead midway through the period, West Virginia didn't get rattled, scoring the next seven points to stay in the game.

That all changed in the second half as Greene, Moore, and Tina Charles took over. Leading 36-29 after Miles' layup with 17:08 left in the game, UConn scored 24 of the next 27 points, including seven straight by Charles. Greene also had six points during the spurt with a three-point play and a 3-pointer. Freshman Kelly Faris capped it off with a basket that made it 60-32 midway through the period.

Auriemma shook up his lineup in the second half, starting Faris in place of Caroline Doty. The freshman provided a huge spark scoring nine points.

The victory came a night after Connecticut extended its streak at No. 1 in The Associated Press women's basketball poll to a record 37th straight week, surpassing Louisiana Tech (1980-82) for the longest run atop the Top 25.

The Huskies, who started their current streak at No. 1 in the poll on Feb. 18, 2008, next play at Louisville on Sunday in a rematch of last season's national championship game.

While the Huskies have continued their dominance, the Cardinals have struggled this season.

Connecticut honored Charles before the game as Auriemma gave her a ball to commemorate the senior becoming the sixth Huskies player to reach 2,000 points. She did it against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Charles, who finished with 14 points and six blocks on Tuesday night, gave her coach a hug and then threw the ball to her mom in the stands.