By Carl Adamec
Stefanie Dolson was the one starter left behind in the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s second-half rout of Duke last Monday.
The junior was front and center for the Huskies Saturday night.
Dolson scored 15 points as No. 3 UConn walloped Cincinnati 67-31 in Big East action at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said at his postgame press conference. “We have to get better at passing the ball and keep getting better at making better decisions. I don’t think all of our guys played great tonight. But Stefanie, for one, was tremendous.”
The Huskies (18-1 overall, 5-1 Big East) gave up the first two baskets in the opening 51 seconds. The Bearcats, ranked 297th nationally in scoring, scored one more basket the rest of the first half.
After getting hoops from Chelsea Jamison and Kayla Cook for a 4-0 lead, Cincinnati (8-11, 0-6) missed 21 of its last 22 shots of the first half. The only field goal in the final 19:09 was a 15-footer from Lesha Dunn at the 11:31 mark.
Dolson, who sat out most of the second half against Duke with four fouls, banked in a 3-pointer to get UConn on the board and made her first five shots.
UConn erased that early four-point deficit with a 13-0 run including nine points by Dolson. After Dunn’s field goal, the Huskies outscored the Bearcats 24-1 to take a 41-9 halftime.
“We’re probably not the team you want to see when you’re struggling to score points,” Auriemma said. “Cincinnati’s a physical team and they played hard and they tried to get some stuff done. But our defense was really good in the first half.”
It was the second time in four trips to Cincinnati that the Huskies have held the Bearcats to single digits in the first half. Cincinnati scored seven points in the first half of a 65-34 loss on Jan. 24, 2009.
UConn entered the weekend second to Wisconsin-Green Bay in scoring defense nationally.
Cincinnati leading scorer Dayseesha Hollins (16.3) got her first points of the game to open the second half but the Bearcats got no closer.
Breanna Stewart added 10 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis eight points and nine rebounds for UConn. Alyesha Lovett had nine points for the Bearcats, who have dropped six straight and eight of nine. The Huskies had a 32-2 advantage in points in the paint and 17-1 in second-chance points.
Auriemma has never lost (36-0) against teams that had one of his former players or assistant coaches as a head or assistant coach. UConn is also 46-0 against the five former Conference USA schools since they joined the Big East in 2005-06.
“We came out here to get a win and we got one,” Auriemma said. “Now we get to go home and get ready for Villanova.”
The Huskies are back in action Tuesday night against Villanova at the XL Center in Hartford (7 p.m., SNY). The Wildcats (16-3, 5-1) are tied for second place in the Big East with UConn and defeated Syracuse 64-59 Saturday.