No. 4 UConn opens with 77-37 win over Holy CrossBy PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press Sunday, Nov 13, 2011
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—The graduation of Maya Moore means Connecticut no longer has that one go-to player.
But the Huskies still have weapons.
Bria Hartley scored 17 points and Tiffany Hayes added 16 as No. 4 UConn opened its season, and the post-Moore era, with a 77-37 rout of Holy Cross on Sunday.
Stephanie Dolson added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies (1-0), who extended their home winning streak to an NCAA-record 84 games.
“We do have enough guys that can help us on any given day, but instead of it being the way it was, it’s just going to be a little bit different,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “Those 50 points might be spread out among three or four people this year instead of just one or two, which I think, in the end, might make us a better team.”
Brisje Malone, Alex Smith and Amy Lemply each had eight points for Holy Cross (0-2), which lost its second consecutive game in Connecticut after dropping its season opener Friday at Yale, 76-71.
UConn held Holy Cross to 23 percent shooting, including 18 percent in the first half as the Huskies jumped out to a 32-6 lead.
The Crusaders played without center Emily Parker, who scored 17 against Yale but was held out of this one as a precaution to rest a knee she injured in the preseason.
“I really thought we competed,” said Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons. “The Parker kid didn’t play and I think she would have helped us. But I would have been stupid to play her against these type of athletes, and the doctor and I talked about that.”
The Huskies opened with a 9-0 run while forcing Holy Cross to miss its first six shots. The Crusaders’ first field goal came 6 minutes in on a 3-pointer by Meredith Ward that made it 12-4.
UConn’s Caroline Doty, who sat out last season with her third major knee injury, scored nine points and played 22 minutes in her first game back since the 2010 national championship game. She received a medical red shirt last year and has played in just 57 of the 117 games since arriving in Storrs in 2008. Doty missed her first two shots, but made consecutive 3-pointers to give UConn a 24-6 lead.
“It felt great just to hear the crowd go crazy,” she said. “It just felt great to be back. We were just having so much fun on the court together again, and today was a reason to show why I love basketball so much. It was just great.”
Freshman reserve Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had seven points and seven rebounds in her first college game, and her driving layup and free throw highlighted a 16-0 first-half run.
“I actually wasn’t really nervous, which is pretty unusual for me,” she said. “Usually, in first games, I’m pretty nervous, but it wasn’t that bad.”
Holy Cross closed the half with a 10-2 run of its own to make it 38-17 at intermission.
Dolson, who hit all six of her shots, scored six of the Huskies’ first nine points in the second half and UConn extended its lead to 26 and went on to the rout.
“I think we played great defense, we really got in the passing lanes,” she said. “When the second half came, we really picked it up. We rebounded the ball. We got a lot more steals, and we just played really well on defense.”
Connecticut committed 15 turnovers, but forced Holy Cross into 17.
Connecticut last lost at home in the 2007 Big East tournament championship game to Rutgers. The NCAA counts games played in the postseason in Hartford and Storrs as home games for the Huskies.
The Huskies are now 26-1 under Auriemma in home openers, and 22-4 in season-opening games.
UConn also improved to 20-2 against Holy Cross and has won the last 19 meetings.
Parker played 10 minutes against Yale and was the team’s leading scorer with 17 points, hitting eight of 11 shots, but Gibbons said he didn’t want to risk further injury by having her play against the Huskies.
Gibbons needs just four wins to reach 500 for his career.