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Connecticut Stomps Stanford 76-56


The letters heard most around Gampel Pavilion on Saturday were D and Q and it wasn't over players fouling out.

Seventh-ranked Connecticut gave one of its most impressive defensive performances of the year in holding No. 9 Stanford to its lowest point total of the season in a 76-56 victory.

Connecticut senior Monquencio Hardnett, better known as "Q," had a season-high 14 points and keyed the zone traps that had the sellout crowd roaring throughout and chanting his name in the second half.

"I don't like being in the spotlight, leave that for the stars," said the reserve guard who was mobbed by his teammates after consecutive steals led to two breakaway moves as the Huskies (21-3) pulled away midway through the second half. "I just like to do what I'm supposed to do as long as we keep winning."

The victory was the fifth straight for the Huskies, while the Cardinal (19-3) lost for the third time in four games after starting the season 18-0. Stanford played at California on Wednesday night, traveled across the country Thursday, practiced Friday and played at noon local time Saturday, 9 a.m. to the team's body clocks.

"We knew we ran the risk, that's why you play the games," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "You are judged every time out and everyone is aware of that. It's not about perception, we are who we are. What that was some really good defense."

Connecticut, always one of the nation's leading defensive teams, held Stanford well under its average of 81.6 points per game and to under 70 points for just the fourth time this season. The Cardinal's previous low was 63 points in a 21-point win over San Diego State.

Stanford, which entered the game shooting 47 percent, was 19-for-61 (31 percent) against Connecticut, only the fourth time this season it was under 40 percent. The Cardinal struggled against the Huskies' zone trap, finishing with 18 turnovers, five over their season average and three less than the season-high they had in their last game against California.

"That was an exquisite basketball game for us. I couldn't ask for much more," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "We normally use our defense to create our offense and that's what happened. We knew they would be tired after coming across the country so instead of playing the game at 12 feet where they wanted to, we played at 94 feet. We wanted a full-court pace even in the half-court."

Richard Hamilton scored 24 points for Connecticut, which led by 12 points at halftime and by as many as 25 before Stanford scored the final five points of the game.

Hamilton had 14 points in the first half as Connecticut took control on both ends of the floor. He scored the first six points of a 10-0 run that gave the Huskies a 12-6 lead. The biggest lead of the first half was 33-19.

"We did not make them pay inside at all," Montgomery said of his team which has one of the biggest front courts in the contry even without starter Pete Van Elswyk who didn't make the trip because of food poisoning. "It was a combination of their defense and us showing some slippage."

Stanford, which lost consecutive home games to Arizona and Arizona State before beating Cal on Wednesday, was led by Arthur Lee with 17 points.

Stanford went on a 10-4 run to get within 65-49 with 5:09 left, but Hardnett and Ricky Moore had successive three-point plays to start an 11-0 run.

"Q did an excellent job for us just like always," Hamilton said. ``We know he and the rest of the bench will do what they have to do and that's why we don't have to worry about fatigue."

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