The Connecticut Huskies let Howard have a little hope for about six minutes at the onset of the second game of the World Vision Classic double-header.
It is after all the season of giving and the Bison were guests in their house. Then the Huskies stopped toying with the Bison and put the game out of reach, resulting in a 86-25 victory for UConn.
Connecticut led 9-0, 3:18 into the game. A timeout by Howard head coach Niki Reid Geckeler, got the Bison back on track allowing them to pull within 4, at 12-8. Then it was UConn’s version of ‘Goodnight Moon’.
Bria Hartley had back to back 3 pointers and a lay up to key a 12-0 UConn run. Howard answered with a 3 pointer of their own to make the score 24-11. UConn’s response was another 17-0 run, leading them to a 41-11 with 4:59 left in the half.
Connecticut coach, Geno Auriemma believes in his freshman point guard who got the run started from all over the court.
"That's what Bria does. She's a playmaker. She makes plays, she makes shots," Auriemma said. "That's what she does and she's not afraid to try to make a play. I would think that as the games go on, we're going to see her have to make more."
A huge part of the second half of that run was the emergence of a post game and UConn increasing their defensive intensity. Connecticut picked up full court and took a smothering man defense to another level. The Bison had a hard time defending UConn’s taller post and they went to work to show their dominance.
Heather Buck inflicted the early damage scoring 6 points in 4 minutes of 1st half action. Taking the reins from her mentor, after a slow start, Stefanie Dolson came in to score 11 points in her 11 minutes in the first half.
"That's something we try to do every game, really," senior Maya Moore said. "We need to have an inside presence every night, and even though it's improving, it's not where we want it to be yet. But I have confidence that it will improve."
UConn led Howard 52-16 at the half. The Huskies had 17 assists on 20 1st half baskets, often working their offense to perfection setting up easy shots for their teammates, leading to 54% shooting in the first half.
Howard had 14 turnovers, compared to 16 points, in the first half. Four of those turnovers were by leading scorer Saadia Doyle. Doyle was doing everything she could do to get away from those pesky UConn defenders who would not let her get a shot off.
If things were bad for Howard in the first half, it only got grimmer for the Bison in the second half. They were not able to get into any offensive flow and defensively they couldn’t contain the Huskies.
Howard managed only 9 points in the second half on 16% shooting. They were led in scoring by Jerelle Gorham who had 6 points on 2- 3 point baskets. Tamoria Holmes and Julee O’Neal added 5 points. Doyle was the Bison’s leading rebounder with 5.
UConn had 7 players with 7 or more points. Moore led all scorers with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, a block and a ‘patridge in a pear tree’ in 22 minutes. Bria Hartley had 16 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Dolson and Buck both had career highs with 13 and 8 points, respectively.
UConn used this game to work on improving their depth as 9 out of the 10 available players’ logged double figures in minutes played. Auriemma also managed to get some rest for his starters who are logging heavy minutes. Tiffany Hayes was the only Husky to play more than 30 minutes, collecting 7 points and 6 rebounds for her efforts.
Early this week after practice, coach Auriemma voiced his concerns over boxing out and rebounding. His concerns premise over the fact that the Huskies have average 16 fouls over their first 3 games mostly due to ‘dumb fouls after someone doesn’t box out’. They apparently listened to their coach as they were only called for 6 fouls for the game and out-rebounded Howard 44-21, as every player had at least 2 rebounds.
Rebounding from the post position is still a concern for UConn and coach Auriemma took a lighthearted dig at his freshman center Dolson, when asked about her impressive performance.
"You mean her two rebounds? I thought she was fantastic," Auriemma said. "She got one each half. She didn't double them all up in the first half. Other than that, we're trying to get her to understand the physicality of the game and how hard she has to work. I think little by little it will get there. Today was a good step in the right direction. Just keep building on that and get better game by game."
Next up for UConn is Lehigh University today at 7:30 PM. Lehigh lost to LSU, 74-63 in the first game of the double-header.
Fun Fast Facts
- With Maya Moore’s 8 rebounds against Howard, she now needs only 8 rebounds to reach 1,000 for her career.
- Moore needs 77 points to become UConn’s All-Time leading scorer.
- UConn now has the all-time consecutive wins record for any division. They passed the mark of 81 games set by Washington University of St. Louis.
- UConn has scored more points in the first half than their opponents have for the game 31 times over their 82 game winning streak.