Thomas earns milestone in big UConn win over Virginia

HARTFORD, Conn. -- With every one of Mel Thomas' first three shots, it seemed every fan in the arena was pulling for the guard to make history.

Thomas may have kept everyone waiting longer than expected.

After a 1-for-5 shooting performance in the first half, Thomas got the ball near the foul line with the crowd again in anticipation, but this time, it went in, and a loud roar by the fans accompanied it.

"I was just trying to score, they just weren't going in," Thomas said. "There's days like that when your a shooter."

The only thing Thomas knew was to keep shooting, and sooner or later the milestone would be met.

"I just kept shooting and eventually a couple went in, which was enough to get 1,000 [points]," Thomas said.

Thomas ended with seven points, putting her career total at 1,002 points. Even with a low-scoring effort by Thomas, the Huskies (7-0) had no trouble taking out the Cavaliers (6-4), winning 75-45 at the Hartford Civic Center Wednesday night.

Three Huskies scored in double figures, as forward Tina Charles, center Brittany Hunter and forward Maya Moore scored 18, 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Moore, coming off the bench, continued to impress in her first season at UConn -- she added three rebounds and two blocks. Her streak of double figures to open her career was extended to seven games.

Charles, who shot 89 percent from the field, along with Hunter, who shot 78 percent, led the Huskies in the paint, where the Cavaliers defense couldn't seem to stop any one from beating them on the blocks.

Both Charles and Hunter went 5-for-5 from the field in the games opening 13 minutes -- something that proved to kill the Cavaliers inside.

"Tonight we met an inside game that was a little over our heads," said Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. "We just did not do much to corral it.

The Cavaliers did hold the Huskies scoreless during a four-minute stretch during the beginning of the game, but that short period was only a glitch in UConn's potent offense all night.

"The biggest thing with [UConn] is that you have to sustain that first hit," Ryan said. "And I don't think we did a very good job."

Ryan credited Hunter for her play after coming off a knee injury. So did her coach.

"I thought she set the ton that first 10 minutes, said Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma. "She's playing with a lot of confidence right now."

One thing that Auriemma stressed that he wasn't confident is in his team's free throw shooting. The Huskies went 8-for-18 from the stripe -- 1-of-7 in the first half.

"Coach has been stressing that a lot," Thomas said of free throw shooting. "[Auriemma has been] telling people they need to get in the gym a lot more and shoot free throws because it's been bad the past couple games."

Poor free-throw shooting or not, the Huskies are still on a role.

With the win Wednesday night, the Huskies have now won their last 20 regular season games, and improve to 25-13 against ACC opponents.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tina Charles, C, UConn -- Charles scored a team high 18 points, and had three of the Huskies 13 blocks. Charles also led the team in rebounds with six.

PLAY OF THE GAME: The Hartford Civic Center was the loudest of the game minutes into the second half when guard Mel Thomas became the 29th player in UConn history to score 1,000 points in her career. Thomas finished the game with seven points, and 1,002 in her career.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: "She said she couldn't breathe. We said 'How can we tell, you're running at the same paced all the time.' Then, what, she had three slices of pizza on her way out of here. She said "[I] can't breathe, but I can eat."
- UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, on guard Kalana Greene's apparent injury after being clothelined by a Virginia player.

UP NEXT: UConn - After a break for final exams, the Huskies are back in action on Dec. 17 when they take on South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion at 7:30 p.m.

Virginia - Following a similar schedule, the Cavaliers have a 15-day break between games, when they host Davidson at 7 p.m.

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