The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were playing without one of their leaders in Khadijah Rushdan. The UConn Huskies women's basketball team hadn't played a game in a while where they dominated from start to finish.
With Rutgers shorthanded, it didn't take UConn long to take control of the game as they went on to a very easy 66-34 win over 9,982 on Saturday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT. The crowd of 9,982 was the biggest at Gampel this season.
It's the ninth straight win for the No. 3/3 Huskies who improve to 21-2 (9-1 Big East). With their third straight loss, No. 13/14 Rutgers falls to 17-6 (6-4).
Playing just 20 minutes, Stefanie Dolson paced the Huskies with 16 points and had four rebounds. Tiffany Hayes added 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis broke out of her shooting slump with 11 points and had five rebounds.
Kiah Stokes continues to impress with her improved play as she came off the bench to score 10 points and pull down five boards. Bria Hartley scored all eight of her points in the second half and also had seven assists as well as five rebounds. Kelly Faris led the Huskies with seven rebounds to go along with her four points, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
Monique Oliver was the only member of the Scarlet Knights to find double digits as she led them with 15 points and eight rebounds. Betnijah Laney chipped in with eight points.
Rutgers kept this one close early as they actually held a 4-2 lead. But with the scored tied at 6-6 with Dolson scoring the first six UConn points, Hayes started a 17-0 run with eight straight points. KML added the next nine points as part of that run. Nikki Speed ended the five minute scoreless drought and the UConn run with a jumper to cut the UConn lead to 23-8.
The Scarlet Knights would get back to within 10 points with a 7-2 run before the Huskies closed out the first half on a 12-4 run to enjoy a 37-19 lead at the break.
Rutgers would get only as close as 16 points twice early in the second half. UConn then used a 16-4 to take complete control of the game and never looked back from there.
Before when Dolson would go to the bench for a break or foul trouble, the Huskies were getting very little production down in the post. But with the emergence of Stokes lately, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma hasn't had to worry about anything down there. You can definitely tell she's played with a renewed vigor down there and that can only help the Huskies in the long run.
The Huskies will take on another ranked team their next time out on Tuesday night when they travel to the KFC Yum! Center to take on the No. 14/12 Louisville Cardinals. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on the CBS Sports Network.
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Notes and musings:
Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer. There are also quotes from select UConn players included in the link.
It's the 98th straight home win for the Huskies. Their last loss at home came against Rutgers in the finals of the 2007 Big East Tournament.
It's also UConn's 58th straight Big East win.
The starters for the Huskies were the usual five suspects of Bria Hartley, Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes, Kelly Faris and Stefanie Dolson.
After shooting 50% in the first half, UConn finished the game shooting 44.4% (24-54). The Scarlet Knights finished the night shooting 29.5% (13-44).
The Huskies had 19 assists on their 24 made baskets.
UConn was 6-of-18 (33.3%) from beyond the arc. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had three of the six. Hartley had two and Hayes the other. Rutgers was 0-for-7.
The Huskies went 12-of-17 (70.6%) from the charity stripe.
UConn won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Rutgers 38-26.
The Huskies outscored the Scarlet Knights 28-20 in the paint and just 2-0 on the fast break.
UConn has 22 points off of 21 Rutgers turnovers. The Scarlet Knights had nine points off of 13 UConn turnovers.
For those keeping score at home, Rutgers had 13 baskets and 17 turnovers.
The Huskies had 22 second chance points to just six for the Scarlet Knights.
UConn's bench outscored Rutgers 24-10.
Photo credit: Brad Horrigan - Hartford Courant (No. 3 in gallery)