CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Tiffany Hayes scored 29 points to help No. 2 Connecticut roll past 10th-ranked North Carolina 83-57 on Monday night, routing the Tar Heels for the third straight season.
Maya Moore added 26 for the Huskies (17-1), who scored the game's first eight points to give themselves a comfortable margin then scored the first 12 of the second half to blow the game open. The Huskies shot 49 percent despite cooling off late, knocking down seemingly every early open look — and there were plenty — and even the ones when the Tar Heels (16-2) managed to get a hand in the shooter's face.
Connecticut also completely shut down the Tar Heels' attack, keeping them from running out in transition and forcing them to operate in the halfcourt. North Carolina shot 31 percent, including 9-for-39 (23 percent) after halftime.
The Huskies have now won four straight meetings, with the last three coming by a combined 97 points.
Hayes' performance was an especially welcome sight for coach Geno Auriemma. Her status was in doubt after she suffered an apparent concussion in a collision with Moore while going for a loose ball in the first minute of Saturday's win against Louisville.
But Hayes started and helped the Huskies get rolling. She had a three-point play followed by a 3-pointer midway through the first half, then lost Cetera DeGraffenreid on a cut to the basket for a layup that made it 33-17 with 11:22 before the break.
By that point, the Huskies had made 14 of 18 shots and had come away empty on just three possessions while repeatedly taking advantage of the Tar Heels' aggressive man-to-man defense with several scores off backdoor cuts.
By halftime, Hayes had 18 points to pass her season average (15 points), while Moore had 14 as the Tar Heels tried in vain to slow her with a rotation of Jessica Breland, Krista Gross and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.
Two years ago, the Huskies came to Chapel Hill in a 1-vs-2 matchup and won 88-58. Last year, North Carolina went to Storrs and lost 88-47.
This one ultimately fit right in with those two games after the Tar Heels did their best to hang around for a half.
Italee Lucas scored 15 points to lead the Tar Heels, who played the Huskies relatively even for the rest of the half after that game-opening spurt. Lucas missed a 3-pointer that would've cut the deficit to single digits late in the half, and the Tar Heels trailed just 49-37 at the break.
But UConn erased any lingering hope once the teams returned from the locker room. Moore knocked down a jumper, then assisted on a jumper from Stefanie Dolson. Kelly Faris followed with a transition layup, then Hayes drove by DeGraffenreid for another score to make it 57-37 with about 18 minutes left.
Moore knocked down a turnaround jumper over Laura Broomfield and Hayes followed with two free throws before the Tar Heels finally scored their first basket of the second half on She'la White's jumper with 16:15 to play.
By then, of course, the Huskies were well on their way and led by as many as 31 points late.
Connecticut played without freshman forward Samarie Walker, who didn't travel due to personal reasons.