By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — The DePaul University women’s basketball team made it to Gampel Pavilion with about 90 minutes to spare for its game with third-ranked UConn Sunday.
And though the Huskies did not practice in the two days leading up to it, they made the Blue Demons’ lives even more miserable.
Stefanie Dolson had 22 of her 23 points in the first half as UConn routed DePaul 91-44 in Big East action before an announced crowd of 8,861.
“It’s unfortunate, but you have to come out here and work your way through it,” UConn All-American Bria Hartley said. “We came out with the right mindset and started the game well. DePaul came out here and did the best they could.
“It showed a lot more maturity on our part than we’ve shown in the past. It’s a step in the right direction. We want to be focused like that for every game regardless of the circumstances.”
Hartley added 18 points in her second straight solid effort as the Huskies (22-1 overall, 9-1 Big East) pushed their winning streak to 10 and improved to 48-0 against the Conference USA 5 — Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville Marquette, and South Florida — since they joined the Big East for the 2005-06 season.
“It didn’t impact us,” Dolson said. “Today was a perfect time to see where we are mentally as a team. The way we came out and played showed we could be ready no matter what.”
The Blue Demons (17-7, 6-4) were scheduled to arrive Saturday but could not get into Connecticut because of the blizzard. Bradley International Airport opened this morning and they arrived in Windsor Locks at 12:20 p.m. Their bus picked them up about 45 minutes later and they arrived here at just about 2:15 p.m. for the 3:40 p.m. tip.
With DePaul’s all-Big East senior guard and leading scorer Anna Martin missing her sixth straight game with a left knee injury, the Blue Demons watched the Huskies take an early lead and never look back.
Sophomore guard Brittany Hrynko, who was averaging almost 20 points per game in league outings, was 0-for-15 from the floor and had seven turnovers. She did have three free throws. Senior center Katherine Harry, the Big East’s leading rebounder at 11.4 per game, did not have a single rebound Sunday.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma is now 10-0 against DePaul and his longtime friend, coach Doug Bruno. Last summer, Bruno served as an assistant coach to Auriemma on the 2012 United States Olympic Team that won the gold medal in London.
“You can’t have any excuses. We did what we had to do and we got here,” Bruno said.
“My day is the two hours between 3:30 and 5:30. It’s not good because we just got our butts handed to us. I just don’t think that this team has ever been able to compete with UConn. I don’t expect us to beat UConn, necessarily. I know it’s hard to say. I think it’s a pretty strong given that they can compete for a national championship. They’re certainly a well coached team. I just wish we were more competitive. If we’re not going to win, we’ve got to get better.”
The Huskies did not practice Friday or Saturday because of the blizzard. Their only competition of the weekend before Sunday was a snowball fight they got into with some other UConn students.
“It was epic. It was awesome,” Dolson said. “We went against some random people. We went out in the blizzard so we couldn’t see anyone. We didn’t see who these people were. But we had an intense snowball fight with them and we won. They thought they won but we did.”
That energy carried over against the overmatched Blue Demons Sunday.
“They want to play,” Auriemma said. “Not everybody loves practice and not everybody gets all geared up for practice, but everybody wants to play in games. They were probably not happy with a couple days off. They didn’t really get a chance to practice a lot, but I thought they were mature enough to do what they had to do.”
The Huskies led wire to wire. UConn scored 11 unanswered points — five by Dolson, four by Hartley — to take a 15-3 lead. After a 3-pointer by DePaul’s Megan Podkowa, UConn went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 24-6. The Huskies closed the first half with an 11-4 spurt to lead 52-27 at the break.
DePaul got no closer. UConn’s biggest lead was the final margin.
Dolson finished 6-for-8 from the floor and made her first 10 free throws before missing her last one. She also had five rebounds and six assists in her 24 minutes.
“I’m definitely happy with the way I’m playing and the way the team is playing as a whole,” Dolson said. “To come off of two days off from the storm and come out and play the way we did I’m definitely proud of that. I hope we can keep getting better from here.”
Hartley was 7-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-6 from 3-point land. She chipped in seven rebounds and four assists in her 24 minutes while setting a quick pace early that DePaul could not keep up with. She was coming off a 20-point game against Marquette Tuesday night.
“It’s a lot easier to when you go out there and play well,” Hartley said. “It helps to build my confidence a little bit. But I don’t want to get carried away. It’s two games in a row and I just want to start stringing some more good games together.”
Breanna Stewart had nine points and nine rebounds for the Huskies while fellow reserve Kiah Stokes had eight points and eight rebounds. Morgan Tuck returned to action after sitting out the Marquette game and had five points and three rebounds in 12 minutes.
Megan Rogowski had 12 points for the Blue Demons, who headed back to the airport for a return flight to Chicago right after the game.
There are no classes at UConn Monday but the Huskies will practice. UConn starts a two-game road trip Tuesday when it takes on Providence at Alumni Hall (7 p.m., SNY). The Friars (7-16, 2-8) were beaten at home by South Florida Sunday, 82-54.