Hartley scores 24, No. 1 UConn women rout Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Geno Auriemma’s 1,000th game at Connecticut was like most of the first 999.
Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson scored 24 points apiece and the top-ranked Huskies beat Houston 92-41 on Saturday for their 34th straight win.
Dolson also had nine rebounds and Breanna Stewart added 16 points, seven boards and five assists as UConn (28-0, 15-0 American Athletic Conference) used a big run to end the first half and cruised to the easy win.
“Whatever number comes next is not going to be 1,000,” Auriemma said after improving to 867-133 with the Huskies. “I’m going to take it one game at a time and see what happens. Take it from there.”
Hartley passed Tiffany Hayes for 10th place on UConn’s career scoring list with a layup with 7:38 remaining. Hartley now has 1,802 points, putting her 63 behind Svetlana Abrosimova for ninth.
“I don’t really pay attention to that,” Hartley said. “When I am done with my UConn career, I will kind of say ‘That is really cool.’ Until then, I am focused on getting better and getting ready for March.”
The Huskies shot 64 percent from the field, including 80 percent in the second half.
Connecticut was slow out of the gate, but played considerably better in the second half, hitting 14 straight from inside the arc to start the second half.
Auriemma said the Huskies have to come ready to play no matter the competition.
“The first 20 minutes were pointless,” Auriemma said. “It’s just another reminder of no matter how many plays you make or how many games you play that look great, there always going to be days where we can’t get into any kind of rhythm. We couldn’t connect with each other. There was no flow to the offense. There was very little going on. The second half was way better. It kind of started that way the first minute or two of the second half.”
Auriemma added that the Huskies aren’t playing against Houston or Southern Methodist, who the Huskies face Tuesday in Dallas, but they are trying to better prepare themselves for March and another title run.
“Win or lose, yeah, we want to win,” Auriemma said. “That isn’t the point. The point isn’t to see how much we can win by. The final score isn’t going to help you win in the NCAA tournament. We are trying to prepare for the NCAA tournament, so we didn’t come down here just to see what the final score is going to be, and sometimes, that’s what kids fall into. You have to be aware of that.”
Te’onna Campbell had 15 points, and Jessieka Palmer added 12 points for the Cougars (5-22, 1-15), who have dropped 18 of their last 20 games and four straight.
Houston, which never led, hung with Connecticut for the first 10½ minutes before the Huskies pulled away with a 21-3 run to end the first half.
“They were good; I thought they were good in the second half,” Houston interim coach Wade Scott said. “The first half I thought they were good. They are playing short right now with some kids that are injured. I know Breanna Stewart gets three fouls in the first half but they’re good, they’re legit.”
Connecticut’s winning streak is the fourth-longest in school history, one behind the Huskies’ 35-game run from Nov. 26, 1994-April 2, 1995.
After the Cougars closed to 19-13 on Campbell’s jumper with 9:32 left in the opening half, Connecticut turned up the defense, scoring the next 11 points before Yasmeen Thompson’s free throw and opened up a 40-16 halftime lead on Moriah Jefferson’s layup with 11 seconds remaining.
“The first half we did not have a great flow on offense,” Dolson said. “Defensively, we were letting them get too many rebounds, so the second half we buckled down and ran our offense and communicated on defense. We got a couple steals to start the second half that really set the tone.”
Houston did not hit a field goal for 8 minutes until Campbell’s layup with 1:35 left in the half. The Cougars missed 15 of their last 16 shots to end the half and 12 straight before Campbell’s layup.
Dolson had 10 points in the run, and Hartley added six.
“They are a good team, like coach said they’re pretty legit,” Palmer said of Connecticut. “It’s not too many things that they don’t do well so playing them is a challenge but I felt like my team did the best they could.”
The Huskies’ lead grew to as many as 51 points in the second half.