In hoops, you can’t teach height, but you sure can use it when you’ve got it. That was the game plan of the #2 ranked Huskies (10-1) from the opening tap as 6’5” UConn center Stefanie Dolson scored 18 of her 22 points in the first half and the Huskies parlayed a 29 point halftime lead into a 93-40 victory over the Stags of Fairfield (7-4) before 8,106 at Gampel Pavilion Thursday night in Storrs.
“We talked during the week about being a more well balanced team”, said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, “We talked a lot about that this year we were hoping, that if we get 60 shots, that a third of them need to come in the lane. That and rebounding were the two things we talked most about since we got back from Christmas and I was really happy we did a pretty good job in both of those areas.”
UConn out rebounded the Stags 46-16.
It was also a special night in Storrs as the University honored the 2002 National Championship team at the half and added Svetlana Abrosimova’s number to the UConn Huskies of Honor.
Dolson’s big first half started 22 seconds into the game after she took a feed from Bria Hartley (10 pts) and the Huskies never looked back taking a 49-20 lead into the half. Dolson, a good three inches taller than the tallest Stag, was the beneficiary of numerous entry passes and finished a tremendous first half effort with a variety of moves in the paint. Tiffany Hayes added 13 first half points and the Huskies defense forced 14 turnovers as UConn’s pressure defense made life miserable for Katelyn Linney and rest of the Stag ball handlers heading into the locker room.
“It was an interesting experience for our kids”, said Fairfield coach Joe Frager, ”Having never have played in an atmosphere like that. I mean a big crowd for us is about 2,000 (fans). So to play in front of this kind of crowd half of my concern, coming into this game, was that kind of a deer in the headlights that a lot of teams get when they come in here and I thought we had that for maybe the first couple of minutes.”
It only took Dolson 12 seconds into the second to score her 20th point on a spin move in the lane. The Huskies opened the second with a 12-2 run pushing the lead out to 61-22 before a timeout with just over 16 minutes to play. UConn continued to pour it on offensively while keeping the Stags in check, holding them scoreless almost seven minutes late in the second half. Hayes led five Huskies in double figures and finished with a game high 23.
“(Dolson) has been having a tough time lately”, said Hayes, “And it was good to see her come out in this game right away, making all her lay-ups and getting open looks and making good passes.”
“She’s a pretty prideful kid,” said Auriemma, ”And she wants to be really good.”