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Tuesday November 29th

Huskies hand Tar Heels worst loss in school history

Connecticut's Bria Hartley has a clear path to the hoop against North Carolina at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, Monday, January 16, 2012. Connecticut won, 86-35. (John Woike/Hartford Courant/MCT)
Buy Photos Connecticut's Bria Hartley has a clear path to the hoop against North Carolina at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, Monday, January 16, 2012. Connecticut won, 86-35. (John Woike/Hartford Courant/MCT)

STORRS, CONN. — After scoring the fewest points at home in program history against Clemson on Thursday, life didn’t get any easier for the North Carolina women’s basketball team.

The Tar Heels visited blistering cold Connecticut on Monday, and the No. 3 Huskies responded by putting up the largest margin of victory ever against a North Carolina basketball team.

The 86-35 loss marked the third in a row for UNC (12-5, 2-2 ACC) and the fifth straight loss to Geno Auriemma’s Huskies.

“They had the pedal to the metal, and they were really rocking and rolling out there and we just seemed like a step slow and couldn’t get anything going,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

“I don’t think we quit. I just think we got real frustrated.”

UConn took a stranglehold on the Tar Heels early, beginning the game with an 11-4 run and then rattling off 15 unanswered points after a Laura Broomfield layup.

Connecticut starting guards Bria Hartley and Tiffany Hayes scored 17 and 13 points respectively, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis supplied 15 points off the bench.

The trio spearheaded what is, on a typical night, one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation.

North Carolina, on the contrary, fielded its ninth different starting lineup on Monday — a group that included Broomfield, Krista Gross and Chay Shegog in the frontcourt and She’la White and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt manning the guard positions.

None of the starting five put up double-digit point totals, and the Tar Heels as a whole shot just 23 percent from the field.

“We were definitely out of sync because this is the first time that group has played together this whole year,” Hatchell said. “Still, we should’ve played a lot better than we did.”

UNC also faced the added pressure of taking down Connecticut on its home court. The Huskies have won 122 of their last 124 games at Gampel Pavilion, and the tightly packed venue offered an atmosphere that UNC hasn’t seen much of this season.

Once Uconn grabbed momentum, it didn’t let go. The Huskies had a 51-16 lead at the half, and they extended their lead to as much as 53 points within the final 10 minutes of the game.

“That’s one of the things we’ve really been pushing — to try to sustain whatever we’re doing,” Auriemma said. “And don’t let it dissipate, as it has, I think at other times.”

Despite UConn’s recent success, the matchup hasn’t always leaned in the Huskies’ favor. North Carolina was 5-2 against Connecticut before the Huskies took the next five matchups.

“They consistently get the best players in the country, and of course that helps a lot when you have the great players that they got,” Hatchell said.

“But also, their system, their style — they’ve always been able to handle their pressure very well. And I don’t think we have quite an athletic team as we used to have.”

UNC’s scoring attempts on Monday night were consistently thwarted by mishandled possessions, as the Tar Heels had twice as many turnovers, 26, as field goals.

And that type of play certainly wasn’t what Hatchell had envisioned coming into Gampel Pavilion.

“I’ve said this before. I don’t mind coming up here and playing because the fans are great women’s basketball fans,” Hatchell said.
“And I just wish we could’ve given them something a little better to see tonight.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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