No. 1 Connecticut 86, No. 3 Oklahoma 72

Saturday, December 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Sue Bird scored 21 points and Asjha Jones had a career-high 18 rebounds Saturday to lead No. 1 Connecticut to an 86-72 win over previously unbeaten No. 3 Oklahoma.

It was a physical game that moved in choppy spurts because of 49 fouls. Both teams had key players in foul trouble throughout the game.

The Huskies (11-0) were without sharpshooter Diana Taurasi for much of the first half because of foul trouble. Stacey Dales, the second-leading scorer for the Sooners (10-1), played just 10 minutes in the second after she picked up her fourth foul in the first 15 seconds of the period.

Taurasi finished with 18 points, all in the second half. Dales scored 11, five below her average.

UConn led by as many as 14 in the first half when Tamika Williams hit two free throws with 10:51 left.

The Sooners countered with an 11-0 run, getting 3-pointers from LaNeishea Caufield and Rosalind Ross to cut the lead to 21-18. Taurasi picked up her third foul in that surge and sat out for all but a few seconds of the remaining half.

Even without Taurasi, the Huskies quickly built the lead back to 10 with a 7-0 run on transition baskets from Ashley Battle and Williams and a 3-pointer by Bird.

Oklahoma took advantage of the closely called game and hit 4-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes to pull within 35-28 at halftime.

The Sooners made 8 of 9 foul shots to close to 55-50 with 9:22 left, but got no closer. Taurasi scored eight points over the next three minutes, including a 3-pointer.

Caufield led Oklahoma with 19 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the foul line. Jamie Talbert led Oklahoma with 10 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds.

Oklahoma was 24-of-30 from the free throw line, but shot a season-low 36 percent from the floor. UConn finished with 46 percent shooting from the floor and hit 23 of 31 from the line.