By Carl Adamec
HARTFORD, Conn. — It was over almost before it started.
The second-ranked University of Connecticut women’s basketball hosted an Oakland (Mich.) club Wednesday night down its two best players with injuries. With preseason Summit League Player of the Year Bethany Watterworth and leading scorer Olivia Nash, the Golden Grizzlies’ chances were slim.
Without them, their chances against the Huskies were none.
All-American Bria Hartley scored 19 of her season high 21 points in the first half as UConn routed Oakland 97-25 before a crowd of 8,325 at the XL Center.
Freshman Breanna Stewart, who came off the bench as Caroline Doty got the starting nod, registered her second double-double with season highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds. Brianna Banks and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also scored in double figures with 18 and 14 points respectively.
Coming off a 13-day break for fall semester final exams and after a stirring pregame ceremony to honor the 26 victims of the shooting last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the Huskies (9-0) delivered a quick knockout.
Hartley and Mosqueda-Lewis opened the game with 3-pointers. Stefanie Dolson followed with a basket and six straight points by Hartley made it 14-0. At that point, UConn coach Geno Auriemma called off his team’s full-court pressure.
Not that it mattered. Oakland shot 8 percent (2 for 25) in the first half and only a 7-for-8 effort from the foul line got the Grizzlies into double figures. It was 61-12 at halftime.
The Grizzlies (5-6) did score the first five points of the second half but got no closer. The only scare of the second half came with 13:56 left when Dolson went down with a left ankle injury. It did not appear serious as she put on a brace and stayed on the bench but didn’t come back in the game.
UConn had a 52-4 advantage in points in the paint and 35-0 bulge in points off turnovers. Heather Buck entered the contest with 4:47 left in the half, the 100th game of the fifth-year senior’s career. UConn was short-handed on its bench as sophomore center Kiah Stokes (right shin) and freshman forward Morgan Tuck (right knee) were out with injuries.
Elizabeth Hamlet had 14 points for Oakland.
The Huskies start a three-game road trip Saturday against the University of Hartford at Chase Family Arena (1 p.m., SNY). They will visit No. 1 Stanford Dec. 29 and Oregon New Year’s Eve.