Those editing the UConn women's basketball record book have been on call lately, so it seems like a good time to set the record straight about one of the players forcing revisions.
Geno Auriemma does not dislike Tina Charles, although he does yell at her. And Charles does not abhor Auriemma, now that she understands why he does.
"In all this controversy about how Coach may have felt about me, I just know that that he made me the player I wanted to be," Charles said Saturday.
Auriemma has said he believes the senior center is gifted, coachable and kind. But he doesn't hand out lollipops at a day care for untapped potential. He runs the top program in the nation and that requires a soft and stern touch when it comes to turning talent into magnificence.
So he has pushed and prodded Charles, even punished her, to toughen her up because he knows nice gets you only so far in the paint.
And on Saturday, the basic point of this exercise, filled with so many emotional shifts, was finally engraved in history.
With 5 minutes left in the first half of No.1 UConn's 98-56 victory over Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center, Charles scored off an offensive rebound of a miss by Kalana Greene to give her 2,001 career points, becoming the sixth player in the program's 2K Club.
"Coach told us after the game what a great accomplishment this was for a player from Connecticut," Charles said. "He told different stories about players who approached the plateau but didn't get enough minutes to do it. It's not about the points, but how you get them. It shows how much respect my teammates have for me in giving me the ball."
Charles led the Huskies (21-0, 8-0 Big East) with 24 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three assists as they extended their winning streak to 60, all by double digits. They are 10 wins from tying their NCAA Division I women's record of 70 set in 2001-03.
Maya Moore added 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, which tied her career high. Greene added 16 points and Tiffany Hayes 10.
"They are a beautiful team to watch," Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato said.
Charles needed 17 points to reach the mark and she had 18 in the first half, shooting 8-for-11 in 18 minutes.
"It's something she can reflect upon when her career is over," Auriemma said. "The teammates she's had here, the success of the teams she's played on ... To have that you need luck and health and great teammates. She's been blessed with all of that. I told her I was happy for her and proud of her. It's not an easy thing to do here at UConn and do it with the number she's played [averaging 24.7 minutes] is remarkable."
The 56 points were the most UConn has allowed since Florida State had 59 on Dec. 28. Only five teams have scored 50 or more against the Huskies this season.
Shayla Scott led the Panthers (12-8, 1-6) with 18 points.
Charles was part of a potent three-part attack that opened a 57-32 halftime lead.
"I'm just surprised [Charles] doesn't have 2,500 points by now," Greene said. "We want to give her the ball and when we do we know something good is going to happen."
Moore added 16 and Greene 12 in the first half, making 5 of 6 shots before injuring the nail on her right thumb. Greene was back at the start of the second half.
The 57 points were the most by UConn in a half since they opened with 69 in the first half against Northeastern.
The Huskies shot 35-for-63 (55.6. percent) — 63.2 percent in the first half — and assisted on 27 of their baskets.
"It's fabulous shot selection," Berenato said. "They don't take bad shots, they don't take contested shots, they know their roles."
The 6-foot-4 Charles seemed to be the focal point of the offense from the start and she delivered against a front line that featured four players 6-3 or taller.
She scored 18 of UConn's first 46 points on a variety of moves near the basket. She made her first five shots, and seven of her first nine. And with Moore, Greene and Caroline Doty combining to drain four threes, Pitt was overwhelmed.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun