Houston, Huskies now gearing for No. 9 Purdue

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- After a weeklong tour of Italy, No. 7 Connecticut came home with just one game to warm up for an early season showdown with No. 9 Purdue.

They didn't waste any time.

Mel Thomas hit all four of her 3-pointers, Charde Houston had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Connecticut beat Boston University 84-51 Tuesday night.

Connecticut (3-0) opened with a 14-4 run and never let BU (3-2) into the game. Thomas finished with 14 points, and was the only starter to play more than 20 minutes.

"I think it was good for us," Thomas said. "We played together, and we got to work on our offense and different defenses and that is going to get us ready."

Freshman Tina Charles had 12 points and eight rebounds, Kalana Greene added 11 points and Brittany Hunter had 10 for the Huskies.

After starting strong, UConn also put together first-half runs of 12-0 and 10-0, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Thomas. The first came on an assist from Ketia Swanier, who threw a a no-look bounce pass between her own legs to the top of the key.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Swanier had the biggest impact on the game.

"She just seemed to be involved in a lot of plays in a short period of time," he said, snapping his fingers in rhythm. "I think that's what your role is supposed to be when you come off the bench, you're supposed to have an immediate impact on the game."

The Huskies led 46-15 at halftime and cruised from there, outscoring BU just 38-36 in the second half.

Katie Meinhardt led the Terriers with 12 points. But, BU hit just one of its first 12 3-pointers, and shot just 34 percent from the field.

BU coach Kelly Greenberg said her team just couldn't compete inside.

"They're huge," she said. "Not only are they big, but they are athletic and they move the ball well and quickly. The offensive rebounding was the difference in the game, and as hard as our girls play and as tough as we think they are, there's just no match for that."

UConn dominated underneath, outrebounding the Terriers 52-26. Houston grabbed her 10th rebound with 7:48 left in the first half, before BU had 10 points.

"We did a lot of things well," Houston said. "We had the ability to really focus on our offense -- rebounding, not fouling, just things that will really matter in a big game."

That game comes on Thursday, when the Huskies host the ninth-ranked Boilermakers.

Connecticut was playing its first game in the United States since beating Colgate on Nov. 16. The Huskies spent their Thanksgiving holiday in Italy, where they won exhibition games against Italian League teams in Naples and Viterbo, went sightseeing in Rome and visited coach Geno Auriemma's hometown of Montella.

Charles called it a bonding experience.

"When we are here, you'd think we're always around each other, but we are really not because we have classes," she said. "It Italy, we really had to stick together because we didn't know anyone else there. That will help us on the court too."

The freshman center sat out the final exhibition game with a sore shoulder but started on Tuesday and said she felt fine.