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No. 2 UConn's defense stifles Rutgers in 63-44 win

Tiffany Hayes scored 18 points, Maya Moore added 17 points and 16 rebounds and No. 2 Connecticut broke open a close game by scoring the first 13 points of the second half to beat Rutgers 63-44 on Wednesday night.

Bria Hartley had 15 points for UConn (19-1, 8-0 Big East), which has won seven straight since its record 90-game winning streak came to an end against Stanford on Dec. 30.

The Huskies have won 58 consecutive conference games, with the last loss coming at Rutgers on Feb. 5, 2008.

UConn led 25-22 at halftime before quickly running off the first 13 points of the second half. Moore started the spurt with a 3-pointer just 11 seconds in. A 3-pointer by Hartley, pull-up by Moore and 3-pointer by Hayes made it a 16-point game less than 3 minutes later.

Rutgers didn't get within 13 the rest of the game.

April Sykes provided much of the offense for Rutgers (12-7, 5-1), scoring 20 points.

There was a time a few years ago when this matchup was the showcase game in the conference. The teams would meet twice a season, and Rutgers was a thorn in UConn's side. But the Huskies have dominated lately, winning the last six meetings by more than 20 points a game.

Even with both teams undefeated in the conference and first place in the Big East on the line, the game didn't have that same intensity to it as so many of the past contests between the teams have.

UConn and coach Geno Auriemma, who has been vilified by Rutgers fans for years, was actually cheered during pregame introductions.

Neither team gave the fans, who braved a snowstorm to show up, much to cheer about early as offense was at a premium. While the two teams rank near the top of the nation in defense, the lack of scoring was more due to poor execution.

Sykes was the only bright spot for the Scarlet Knights as she had 11 of the team's first 13 points. She was matching Moore shot for shot. UConn's senior All-American had 10 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer that made it 17-15 with 8:58 left in the period.

With the game tied at 17, Connecticut clamped down defensively, holding Rutgers without a basket for nearly 6 minutes. The Huskies couldn't really take advantage of their sparkling defense, only extending the lead to 25-20.

UConn led 25-22 at the half despite shooting just 28 percent (9 for 32) from the field.

Then the Huskies took over, going on the run to start the second half. Sykes finally ended the spurt with a tough fallaway jumper on the baseline.

Rutgers cut it to 42-29 on Monique Oliver's layup, but UConn answered with a layup by Stefanie Dolson and another 3-pointer by Hartley to end any hopes of a comeback.

Connecticut, which was already thin on the bench with the departure of freshman Samarie Walker to Kentucky last week, got a scare early when Hayes got hurt 41 seconds into the game. She was poked in the face by Erica Wheeler and went down.

The junior walked off the court and was looked at on the bench for a few minutes before heading back to the locker room. She returned about 5 minutes later, checking back into the game just after the 12-minute mark of the first half.

UConn has won 150 straight against non-ranked opponents, with the last loss coming to Notre Dame on Jan. 13, 2004.

The Huskies have a tough stretch coming up after playing at Cincinnati on Saturday. UConn hosts No. 3 Duke on Monday followed by a visit from 12th-ranked DePaul, which is off to its best start in conference play with a 7-0 mark. Connecticut will then face No. 8 West Virginia on Feb. 8.