Big East Notebook: Underdogs are claiming Vengeance

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Numbers can be deceiving, and two Big East teams found this out the hard way.

On an action packed Saturday in which 14 conference teams laced up their sneakers, Notre Dame and Rutgers were left wondering why they lost to teams that they — at least as far as rankings go — were clearly superior to.

The then No. 13-ranked Irish were topped by Villanova 55-48 and the No. 21-ranked Scarlet Knights were outlasted by DePaul 60-58.

For the underdog Wildcats team, it was its first victory over a ranked opponent since beating Boston College back in 2005. Villanova never trailed in the game and senior Laura Kurz tallied 16 points including two late free throws to seal Notre Dame's fate.

Unbeatable

While some top Big East teams were struggling on Saturday, another squad continued its dominant play.

Coming off its incredible 30- point win against No. 2 North Carolina, the unbeaten Connecticut Huskies dismantled Cincinnati 65-34. Led by sophomore sensation Maya Moore, who had 18 points in Saturday's win, the Huskies have looked bullet proof so far this season.

Their armor will be tested in upcoming weeks when they face in-conference foes like Georgetown, Marquette and Rutgers. Everyone in the Big East is locked-and-loaded for the tough-skinned Huskies, but don't be surprised if they continue to be impenetrable.

Ask Cincinnati how stout the Connecticut defense is — the Bearcats scored only seven points in the first half in their blowout loss. "Our kids couldn't get a good open look," Cincinnati coach J. Kelley Hall said.

Player of the Week

In a weekend that was filled with star power, no one made a bigger impact than a no-name player from Georgetown.

Jaleesa Butler came off the bench to notch a career high 27 points in a loss to Marquette on Wednesday. She then followed that up with 26 points and seven boards in a Saturday win over South Florida. The 6-foot junior nearly tripled her offensive output on the week, averaging 26.5 points per game in comparison to her season average of 9.9 ppg.

Her game against the Golden Eagles was particularly impressive. Butler rose from the ashes of the bench to provide instant offense when the Hoyas needed it most, although she couldn't overcome the Marquette second half resurgence.

It was a performance reminiscent of former NBA player Vinny "Microwave" Johnson, who would come off the bench late in games and heat up as quickly as the kitchen appliance. Butler looks to be the spark Georgetown needs to catch fire for the rest of the season.

Game of the Week

One word will float around the locker rooms before the Tuesday night match-up between Notre Dame and Rutgers: redemption.

One team will get it, the other will continue its spiral into the Big East's abyss. Both teams are coming off crushing losses to unranked opponents and will look desperately to right the ship in this one.

With their star player, sophomore Deveraux Peters, lost for the season due to an ACL injury, the Irish will lean on upperclassmen Ashley Barlow, Melissa Lechlitner and Lindsay Schrader to carry the team.

The Scarlet Knights are led by junior Epiphanny Prince — notorious for scoring 113 points in a single high school game — and are trying to avoid their most disappointing season in recent memory.

Though Rutgers has more talent, the Irish have a secret weapon — home court advantage — and the edge in this one.

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