Jan. 9, 2010

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -Not even the nation's top teams have provided Connecticut with much of a challenge during its 54-game winning streak.

The top-ranked Huskies have made a habit of raising their game to another level, turning supposed challenges into routs.

Tina Charles scored all of her 25 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds to help UConn demolish No. 7 North Carolina 88-47 on Saturday.

The streak ties one Louisiana Tech made from 1980-82 as the second-longest in Division I women's basketball history. UConn also has the longest streak, 70 straight between 2001 and 2003.

The Huskies have run through their opponents during the current streak, winning every game by at least double digits. Connecticut has really turned it on against the top 10 teams its faced, winning the nine games by an average of just over 27 points.

"It's easier to get excited for ranked teams," said Maya Moore, the reigning national player of the year. "We know that we have to be focused, and usually when we can put that pressure on ourselves and face good competition, it brings out the best in us."

Tiffany Hayes had 15 points and three players recorded double doubles for UConn. Maya Moore had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Kalana Greene added 11 points and 10 boards for the defending national champions, who are 15-0 for the third consecutive season.

She'la White scored nine to lead North Carolina (13-2), which had only lost to Michigan State before Saturday.

Last season, the Tarheels lost 88-58 at home to UConn in a 1 vs 2 showdown that sent North Carolina into a tailspin.

"I just told the players, 'Forget this game was ever played. Let's go home and get ready for the ACC,"' said UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell. "

North Carolina ran with UConn early and jumped out to a 10-7 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the game. Then UConn took over.

A basket by Moore forced UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell to call her first timeout 5 minutes later with UConn up 22-10. The bucket was part of a 23-0 UConn run that ended when North Carolina's White hit a 3-pointer that made it 30-13.

By that time, Charles already had 17 points. She had outscored the entire North Carolina team 25-24 at halftime, hitting 11 of her 14 shots. She played just 9 minutes in the second half.

That's the most points since Moore had 25 points at halftime of a game against Marquette during her freshman year. She finished that game with 31.

UConn led 56-24 at the break. Midway through the second half it was 73-35.

Charles said she got the feeling during UConn's early run that the Tar Heel's wanted nothing to do with her.

"When I'm just running the floor, and I'm just wide open and I don't see any players who are defending me around me ... I can tell," she said.

Moore has hit double figures in 90 of her 92 games at UConn.

Connecticut has beaten four ranked teams this season, with wins earlier over Stanford, Florida State and Texas. The Huskies face No. 3 Notre Dame next Saturday.

Carolina senior star Jessica Breland, who recently finished five months of chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma, returned to practice this week and was on the bench Saturday. She's expected to redshirt this season.

The Tar Heels, who normally shoot about 46 percent from the field, were held to just 22 percent, hitting only 17 of 76 shots, their worst shooting performance of the year. Their previous low was 36 percent against the Spartans.

Greene said that was part of the plan.

"We practice and we compete hard every day so that teams won't get a a certain amount of points," she said. "It's not surprising, but we thought that we didn't play as well as we could have played."

North Carolina and UConn have each won five games during their 10-game series, but UNC is 1-3 in Connecticut.

The Tar Heels are now 2-26 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.