Connecticut junior forward Maya Moore continued her climb toward greatness by scoring 38 points (on 12-for-19 shooting) to go with a career-high 20 rebounds on Feb. 24's matchup against the Syracuse Orange.
“It was just a phenomenal night for her-- she’s unique,” said Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma after the game.
Moore, the defending National Player of the Year and two-time Big East Player of the Year, dominated the game from the tip-off. After Syracuse took its lone lead, following a Juanita Ward 3-pointer from the top of the key resulting in a 3-2 score, Moore flew for an offensive rebound and the put-back layup to set the tone on the glass. Connecticut, the fifth-best rebounding team in all of Division I, would hold a 50-30 rebound advantage over Syracuse.
The Orange stayed within striking distance of the Huskies for much of the first half, benefitting from 11 first-half turnovers by Connecticut. A jumper in the paint by Syracuse freshman forward Kayla Alexander got the Orange within seven points, 28-21, with 7:28 left in the half.
After a UConn turnover, Syracuse senior guard Tasha Harris turned to teammate Nicole Michael and urged her to get the ball back inside to Alexander. Moore sensed their intentions, and quickly jumped in the path of the pass and chased down the loose ball. Two possessions later, Moore started another fast break with a defensive rebound. She dribbled hard to the opposite foul line, drew the Orange defender and deftly bounced a pass to teammate Caroline Doty for the easy score and a 34-23 lead.
Over the next five minutes, Moore blocked a shot and scored five points as the Huskies tore off on a 15-6 run to end the half with a 49-33 lead.
Moore already had her 37th career double-double, tallying 18 points and 14 rebounds in the first half of play. Her partner-in-crime, guard Tiffany Hayes, led all scorers with 19 first-half points.
“We’re out there trying to attack every time, be aggressive,” said Moore. “Tiffany just kept attacking the rim and knocking down free throws.”