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Moore leads No. 1 Connecticut over Lady Yellow Jackets
Connecticut’s Maya Moore (23) goes up for a shot as Georgia Tech’s Alex Montgomery defends in the first half of an NCAA women’s college basketball game in Storrs, Conn. on Sunday. - photo by By Bob Child

STORRS, Conn. — Top-ranked Connecticut outplayed Georgia Tech for about five minutes, and fortunately for the top-ranked Huskies, it was the final five.

Maya Moore had 20 points and 14 rebounds to help the Huskies pull away from the Yellow Jackets and come away with a 82-71 season-opening win Sunday.

The game was tied at the half, and UConn led 65-62 with 6:55 to play. UConn closed the game on a 17-9 run.

"There was a sense of purpose in that last five or six minutes," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "Certainly down the stretch when we knew what they were trying to do, and we knew that it depended on one more stop."

Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles each added 15 points for the Huskies, who won their 13th straight season opener. The victory also extended the Huskies regular-season winning streak to 25 games.

Georgia Tech kept the game close by hitting 10-of-15 3-point shots. Freshman Mo Bennett, who had three of those, scored 19 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (1-1). Jacqua Williams had 14 and Alex Montgomery added 12.

Moore, who was only 3-of-11 from the field in the first half, scored 14 second-half points. It was the 12th double-double of the sophomore's career and the 37th time she's reached double figures in her 39 games.

Two consecutive steals by Montgomery in the final 2 minutes led to easy layups for Moore and Caroline Doty that put the game out of reach. Doty had 13 points in her first collegiate game.

"It shouldn't have come down to the final five minutes," Renee Montgomery said. "We should have handled business over the first 35 minutes, but we can be happy on how we handled ourselves when the game was on the line."

Charles scored her 1,000th career point on a layup with 11:15 left in the first half that gave the Huskies a 19-10 lead. But she picked up her second foul a short time later and had just four points in 11 minutes before intermission.

Without Charles in the game, the Huskies at times went to a five-guard lineup, and could not shake the Yellow Jackets, who pressed on defense and hit 4-of-5 from behind the arc before intermission. UConn hit just 4-of-19 from 3-point range, just 2-of-12 in the first half.

"It doesn't look good when we don't have our center presence in the game," Charles said. "Just looking at it from the bench, it looked real bad."

Bennett's steal and driving layup just before the halftime buzzer tied the game at 34.

"We weren't going to let the name on their jerseys strike fear in us," said Alex Montgomery. "We were just ready. They are just like any team, just like us. They put on their tights the same way as us."

The Huskies had built a 59-46 lead midway through the second half, before the Yellow Jackets came roaring back with a 16-6 run. A Bennett layup cut the lead to 65-62, but the Yellow Jackets could not get any closer.

Georgia Tech won its opener on Friday night, 73-49 over Troy, but plays 10 freshmen and sophomores, was picked to finish sixth in the ACC and was not expected to challenge the Huskies. UConn returned four starters from a team that lost just two games a year ago and made it to the Final Four.

"Anytime you come into the No. 1 team in the country and give them a battle the way we did for 35 minutes, I think that bodes well for us down the road," said coach MaChelle Joseph. "We came here an average team, we're leaving here a good team and hopefully by March, we'll probably face them again, and I hope we're a great team."

At halftime, Connecticut honored the members of the 1995 team, which went 35-0 and won the first of the school's five national titles.

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