UConn hits on all cylinders in opener

By Carl Adamec

Breanna Stewart wasn’t born when former Wade Trophy winner Jennifer Rizzotti set the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s record for points by a freshman in her debut.
Stefanie Dolson wasn’t born the last time a Huskies’ player recorded a triple-double.
While No. 2 UConn’s 103-39 rout of College of Charleston Sunday before 6,221 at Gampel Pavilion wasn’t one for the ages, it did have its share of impressive performances.

Stewart finished with 21 points, two points off the total Rizzotti had in her debut Dec. 1, 1992, against Fairfield. The 18-year-old Stewart was 8-for-11 from the floor and hit all five of her free throws. She also had five rebounds and four steals.
“It was similar to the exhibition games because we take those as real games,” Stewart said. “But at the same time you thought, ‘This is the start of the season. This really counts.’ In that way it was different.
“I’m really pleased. We had some rough patches, but that shows we can better if we continue to work hard in practice.”
Dolson, meanwhile, was one of the six Huskies in double figures with 11 points. But she also had nine rebounds and a career high eight assists when she came out of the game for good with 9:09 left.
“That would be weird to ask to go back in, wouldn’t it?” Dolson said with a laugh.
The last UConn triple-double was by Laura Lishness in the Big East Tournament final against Providence on March 5, 1989.
Dolson, a junior center, has had two double-doubles at UConn, one in each of her two seasons.
“Have I ever had a triple-double? I’ve barely had double-doubles,” the 20-year-old Dolson said. “I felt like I was rebounding the heck out of the ball today and the assists are cool.
“It’s great to have that feeling of trust that when I get double teamed inside I can kick it out and my teammates will knock in a 3-pointer or score off a drive. I think today showed what kind of season it can be like.”
UConn had 32 assists on 42 baskets and shot 63.6 percent from the floor in overwhelming Charleston.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (19), Morgan Tuck (15), Caroline Doty (10), and Brianna Banks (10) were also in double figures for the Huskies, who won their 17th straight season opener dating back to November 1995 when they fell to Louisiana Tech in overtime at the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic in Knoxville, Tenn.
“For a majority of the game I thought we got a lot done in a very efficient manner,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s one of the things that we’ve been trying to do in our practices. A lot of our walk-throughs and film are just pointing out that there are opportunities to score, and score fairly quickly. We want to take advantage of those and I thought we did exactly that for the most part.”
The Huskies erased Charleston’s only lead of the game (2-0) as Mosqueda-Lewis hit three straight 3-pointers in a 19-0 run. A 22-0 run extended the UConn lead to 41-7 and it was 57-13 at halftime.
Kelly Faris’ layup with 2:21 left got the Huskies into triple figures.
“We went out hard right from the beginning of the game,” Dolson said. “They got the first basket, which we weren’t happy about, but we played awesome at the beginning of the game. We just had great pressure on the ball. You could see that our effort was there. I am definitely pleased with the overall effort.”
UConn, which averaged 112.0 points per game in two exhibitions against Division II opponents, reached the 100-point plateau for the first time since hammering Pacific 112-53 in Game 2 of last season.
And the Huskies did it without All-America guard Bria Hartley (ankle injury). Auriemma expects Hartley to miss the game at No. 15 Texas A&M next Sunday with hopes of having her back for the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands Nov. 22.
“It will be different,” Auriemma said. “I don’t know that it will be necessarily better or worse. It will just be different. I don’t know that we really can score a lot more points than we’ve scored the first three games even when Bria comes back because there’s still an inexperience factor that’s out there. The last eight minutes of the game today I think we scored eight points. So we’re still going to go through stretches where it’s not going to be great. But from what I saw today I don’t think scoring points is going to be a problem. How many points may be irrelevant. I don’t think scoring’s going to be a problem. We’re going to score. It’s making sure we just keep getting better at all the other things.”
Alyssa Frye led Charleston (1-1) with 14 points. The Cougars shot 22.2 percent from the floor and committed 25 turnovers.
UConn is off until next Sunday when it travels to College Station for the first time for its matchup with Texas A&M. The Aggies (0-1) dropped their season opener 47-45 at No. 9 Louisville Friday. They host No. 8 Penn State on Wednesday.