On Monday night, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team was embarrassed at the KFC Yum! Center by the Louisville Cardinals. On Tuesday night, the UConn women’s team was looking to return the favor to the Cardinals women’s team.

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma argues a call with official Wesley Dean during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game against Louisville Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 in Louisville, Ky.Instead, the Huskies found themselves in a prized fight with the Cardinals and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if there’s a lot of ice used during the flight home.

After building up a big first half lead, UConn was able to survive the physical battle and a Louisville comeback to notch a hard fought 56-46 win in front of 16,483 and a nationally televised audience on CBS Sports Network. The crowd was the largest to see a women’s basketball game at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Huskies improve to 22-2 (10-1 Big East) and now have won 10 straight games. The Cardinals fall to 17-7 (6-5).

Caroline Doty led the Huskies in scoring in 15 points and was the only one to score in double digits. She also had three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Tiffany Hayes had nine points, 11 rebounds and three assists before fouling out for the third time in her career. Bria Hartley also added nine points while Stefanie Dolson had eight points and nine rebounds.

Despite shooting 6-of-20 from the floor, Shoni Schimmel led all scorers with 20 points and led the Cardinals with eight rebounds. She did have eight turnovers. Sara Hammond had 10 points and two rebounds before fouling out.

Early on, the Cardinals kept it close with UConn. With the Huskies clinging to a 9-8 lead and 12:01 remaining in the half, they went on a 11-0 run on the strength of three three-pointers and a Kiah Stokes layup. Schimmel ended that Huskies run with a three-pointer only to see UConn go on a 13-1 run to open up a 21 point lead at 33-12.

The Cardinals responded though with a 5-0 run to close out the half and narrow the gap to 16 at 33-17.

UConn built their lead right back up to 20 pts before things changed. The Cardinals began to play a little more physical and this seemed to disrupt the flow of the Huskies. Behind the play of Schimmel and Hammond, Louisville got themselves and the crowd back into the game with a 9-2 run to cut UConn’s lead to 13 at 40-27 with 13:49 to go.

Over the next eight minutes or so, Louisville kept on fighting and cut UConn’s lead down to six when Schimmel drained a jumper with 5:17 to go. Hartley silenced the crowd with a three to push the lead back to nine. The Huskies would make sure the Cardinals wouldn’t get any closer though using a 5-1 run to push the lead back to 13 points before settling for the 10 point win.

A win is a win at this point but a certain times during the second half, the game didn’t resemble a basketball game. It looked like more of a boxing match. The refereeing was definitely terrible and they were the ones who allowed the play to get the way it did. They were lucky no one got seriously hurt.

Give credit to the Huskies though for stepping and battling it out.

The UConn women are back in action on Saturday afternoon when the Georgetown Hoyas come to Gampel Pavilion. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised locally in Connecticut on CPTV.

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Notes and musings:

UConn Huskies @ Louisville Cardinals 2.7.12 box score

The starting five for the Huskies were Bria Hartley, Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes, Kelly Faris and Stefanie Dolson.

UConn shot 36.4% (20-55) from the floor while the Cardinals shot 25% (14-36).

The Huskies had 11 assists on their 20 made baskets.

UConn was 8-of-29 (27.6%) on three pointers. The Cardinals were 5-of-22 (22.7%).

The Huskies went 8-of-10 (80%) from the charity stripe. Louisville shot poorly from the free throw line going 13-of-21 (61.9%).

The Cardinals won the battle of the boards, outrebounding UConn 42-38.

The Huskies outscored the Cardinals 24-8 in the paint.

Both teams had four points on the fast break.

UConn had 10 points off of 20 Louisville turnovers. The Cardinals had 19 points off of 22 Huskies turnovers.

The Huskies had six second chance points to two for the Cardinals.

Louisville’s bench outscored UConn’s 18-11.

Both teams combined for 38 fouls (Huskies had 20, Cardinals had 18).

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Photo credit: AP Photo (No. 5 in gallery)