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Connecticut clinches Big East title

March 04, 2008|From the Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Renee Montgomery scored 21 points and Maya Moore added 19 to help top-ranked Connecticut defeat No. 4 Rutgers, 66-46, Monday night and win the Big East regular-season championship in front of a near-sellout crowd of 15,779.

Tina Charles had 15 points and 17 rebounds for UConn, which won its second straight Big East regular-season title and 13th in the last 15 seasons.

The Huskies (29-1, 15-1) also earned the top seeding in the conference tournament that starts Saturday. Rutgers (24-5, 14-2) will be seeded No. 2. Both teams have first-round byes and don't play until the quarterfinals Sunday.

With UConn leading by two points early in the second half, Charles took over. She scored six points during a 10-2 run that extended the lead to 44-34 with 10:49 left. It was her 14th double-double this season.

Rutgers cut the deficit to six on Matee Ajavon's free throws, but Montgomery answered with a three-pointer to start a 22-8 spurt to close the game. Montgomery scored 12 points during the run.

"Big-time shots made by an All-American player," Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma said. "No disrespect to the Rutgers players but she was the best guard on the floor."

Essence Carson led Rutgers with 15 points. Epiphanny Prince, who scored a career-high 33 points in Rutgers' 73-71 win over Connecticut on Feb. 5, was held to five points.

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