One in the books for UConn woman hoops...Bigger test on tap on Monday against Stanford.
Jen Rizzotti and her Hartford Hawks came to the XL Center to play the UConn Huskies on Saturday. To this day, the former Huskie star gets a tremendous ovation from the Hartford fan base. UConn won, 89-34.
HARTFORD: It may have technically their first game of the season and first in their defense of the NCAA title they added to a long list a year ago but the real test for the UConn Huskies comes in two days.
On Saturday, UConn disposed of Jen Rizzotti and the Hartford Hawks by an 89-34 score that could have been worse than the final store.
Monday, the Stanford Cardinals invade Gampel Pavilion looking to square a debt they acquired a year ago when Connecticut traveled to California and put a 61-35 whopping on a team that made a run to the Final Four by years end.
“Nobody likes to get beat by that much,” Breanna Stewart said. “You remember that and want to try and do something about it next time you play that team.”
Both teams are considered top-five in the country as the season starts with UConn in the top spot and Stanford not far behind.
Before 8186 fans at the XL Center, the Huskies unleashed their devastating diversity on a very young Hawks team coached by Rizzotti, who is now in her 15th year at the helm.
The weapons were on display early and often as home team led from the start and took a 9-7 lead all the way out to 27-7, a span that stretched nearly seven minutes in which the visitors did not score.
It was 55-17 at the half behind 16 points from Stephanie Dolson and a dozen from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
Dolson appears to be fully recovered from injuries that didn’t stop her a year ago but were obstacles none the less.
The senior center nailed a pair of three-pointers in the first half and now has 10 in her last two seasons after not connecting on any during her freshman and sophomore years.
This was the start of the defense of the 2012-2013 national title for Huskie head coach Gino Auriemma, who enters his 29th season at the helm of the powerhouse known as UConn.
There are 11-players on his roster, each got in the game against the Hawks, even Ansonia graduate Tierney Lawlor who brought her team to their feet with five consecutive points in the second half, including a long three-pointer.
It’s not a huge number, this one short of a dozen but the talent level, as it has been seemingly forever, is tremendous.
Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart, Dolson, Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson are tough enough.
Jefferson ended up leading all scorers with 17 points while showing an incredible first step to the basket.
Don’t forget, UConn didn’t press much at all, add that to the munitions pile.
Freshman Morgan Tuck ha six points and three boards while fellow frosh Saniya Chong added eight with four boards and a knack for learning on the fly.
“There was a play in the second half that Hartford ran that worked and they scored,” Auriemma said. “They came down and tried to run the same play the next time down and Chong broke it up. She picks up things very quickly.”
Freshman Kiah Stokes pulled down seven rebounds in her 24-minutes of action as the second unit logged major minutes.
Hartley played well with six points in 22 minutes and had extra kick in her step with the regular season finally underway.
As Stanford boards that plane from the West Coast coming to Storrs, they may have revenge on their minds but run into a loaded team with a leader in Auriemma who isn’t about to let them take their foot off the gas pedal.