- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

From combined dispatches

No. 4 Pittsburgh 76, No. 1 Connecticut 68: It wasn’t just a game between No. 1 and No. 4. It was a game between two of the Big East’s most physical teams. And it was played just the way it was expected to be.

DeJuan Blair scored 22 points and added 23 rebounds in the Panthers’ victory over the Huskies on Monday night in Hartford, Conn., for Pittsburgh’s first win over a top-ranked team.

“That was the most physical game I ever played in my entire life,” Blair said. “There were elbows flying, bodies flying. We just went after each other the whole game.”

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun referred to the games played in the conference over a decade ago.

“The Big East games in the ‘90s were like this,” he said. “They came in here and played a style of basketball we haven’t seen this year, and it was effective against us. … They made big plays, and we didn’t. It was a hell of a basketball game.”

The biggest of those plays were 3-pointers from Levance Fields, who scored all 10 of his points in the final 3:09. His first 3 gave the Panthers (24-2, 11-2 Big East) the lead for good at 64-61 with 3:09 left. His second 3 with 2:21 left made it 67-61, and he added four free throws in the final minute.

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon kidded around that if he knew Fields had missed his first eight shots, he might not have called plays for him.

Those misses didn’t faze Fields, a senior point guard who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

“I think every shot I take is going in, so it didn’t matter how many I had missed,” he said. “It didn’t matter that I missed the first eight. I got the biggest two.”

A.J. Price had 18 points for the Huskies (24-2, 12-2), who started their third week at No. 1 earlier Monday.

Sam Young had 25 points for Pittsburgh, which lost all 13 games it had played against No. 1 teams, the last three against Connecticut over the last 11 years.

The game was expected to be physical down low and it was, with the 6-foot-7 Blair flipping 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet over his back in the first half, sending him to the bench for about four minutes. Blair got a dose back in the second half when he had to leave the game for almost three minutes after taking an elbow to the face.

“It seemed like a typical game to us, big bodies, good players, playing hard on a national stage,” Dixon said. “It didn’t seem too much of a change for us.”

Calhoun felt it was quite a change for his team.

“We haven’t played in that sort of game since the early 2000s, the 1990s,” he said. “That was what was going to be allowed tonight, and Pittsburgh played that way. They outrebounded us, and we left a man open on two big plays. We were in a foreign land a bit. I’m very proud of the 13-game wining streak, and hopefully we’ll get back to boxing out.”

AREA MEN

South Carolina St. 73, Howard 59: Josh Jackson scored 16 points to lead the Bulldogs to a win over the Bison in Orangeburg, S.C.

Jackson shot 6-for-10 from the field and added eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (12-12, 7-5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). Jason Flagler added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Howard (7-18, 5-6) was paced by Eugene Myatt with 15 points. Paul Kirkpatrick and Randy Hampton chipped in with 12 points apiece.

The Bulldogs shot 47.3 percent from the field (26-for-55) and outrebounded Howard 36-31.

AREA WOMEN

HOWARD 73, SOUTH CAROLINA ST. 56: Zykia Brown scored 20 points, and Morgan Neal and Tamaya Daniels added 16 and 14, respectively, to lead the Bison to a win over the Bulldogs in Orangeburg, S.C.

AP TOP 25 WOMEN

No. 7 Duke 62, No. 13 Tennessee 54: Jasmine Thomas scored 19 points, and the Blue Devils beat the Volunteers in Knoxville, Tenn., for their third straight victory.

Duke (21-3) joins only Texas and Louisiana Tech as teams that have won three straight games on the Lady Vols’ homecourt. The Blue Devils also won in 2004 and 2007.

Texas did it from 1983 to 1988, and Louisiana Tech managed the feat from 1981 to 1986.

No. 22 South Dakota St. 87, Southern Utah 42: Jennifer Warkenthien scored 19 points, and the Jackrabbits jumped out to a huge early lead and coasted past the Thunderbirds in Brookings, S.D.

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