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Huskies dominance starts on the defensive end

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm •  Published: March 27, 2014
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's opponents spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to slow the Huskies' offense. A bigger challenge may be finding a way to score on the nation's top-ranked women's team.

UConn (36-0) goes into Saturday's regional semifinal against BYU (28-6) holding opponents to an average of 47 points a game. The next best defense, Presbyterian, gave up 53.5 this season. The Huskies also are at the top of the list when it comes to shooting defense, with opponents making just 30.4 percent of their shots.

"Our philosophy has always been, if we play great defense we're going to have a chance to win every single game," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Then we're going to let our offense dictate how much we're going to win by. If our offense is lousy that night, we're not going to win by a lot, but our defense is going to make sure that we have a chance to win every single game that we play."

In his first few seasons, he said, the Huskies were holding teams to 55 points a game, and losing 55-50. This season, they are scoring an average of more than 83 points, and winning games by an average of 36. The nation's other undefeated team, Notre Dame, ranks second in that category, with an average margin of victory of just over 26 points.

"It's easy, especially when a team is scoring at the clip that they are offensively, to be slow and sloppy and lazy on the defensive side of it," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said after losing by 26 to the Huskies in the American Athletic Conference tournament. "I think that Geno does a masterful job of encouraging his players to be as intense on the offensive side as they are on the defensive side or vice versa. But that's what clearly makes a great team."

Auriemma jokes that he has a way of making sure players give maximum effort. If a player isn't committed to defense, he has several other former high-school All Americans on the bench who are ready to take their minutes.

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