Stags no match for Huskies as UConn prepares for conference play
The last time the UConn women’s basketball team played Fairfield University the Huskies defeated the Stags 93-50. The date was November 9, 2001 and that UConn team rolled to a 39-0 season that was commemorated with their addition to the UConn Huskies of Honor row at halftime of last night’s game.Â Before and after that ceremony, however, the currentÂ Huskies did that team 10 points better, shaking off the doldrums that plagued them versus College of Charleston, and rolled to a 93-40 victory.
Not that the outcome was really a surprise (Fairfield lost to Providence 75-43 in their earlier game with a Big East opponent this season), but the Stags are a good enough local matchup to bring the fans from various parts of the state to Gampel Pavilion on a chilly night when school was not yet back in session. Add in the fact that coach Geno Auriemma tossed the Huskies out of practice early in front of the press this week, there was at least a little intrigue for this one. The game was far from perfect, and the Huskies guards still showed they are struggling to consistently make good entry passes to the post, but it was definitely the type of win to enter the Big East schedule.
It was clear from the outset that Fairfield would have no answer for Stefanie Dolson, UConn’s 6’5 center who dominated the smaller Fairfield posts.
â€œOur coaching staff kept saying don’t let Dolson get two feet in the paint,â€ said Fairfield coach Joe Frager, “and they are kind of looking at me like â€˜coach, I’m really trying, I’m throwing my 160 [pounds] against her but it’s not really cutting it right now.â€™â€
Dolson was nearly perfect from the floor, hitting 11 of 13 shots to score 22 points in only 18 minutes.
â€œShe’s improved tremendously,â€ Frager continued, â€œshe’s gotten herself in much better physical shape then when she first came in, and her footwork has gotten so much better. She’s tough inside.â€
â€œWe had talked during the week about being a more well-balanced team,â€ UConn coach Geno Auriemma explained, â€œwe were hoping that if we get 60 shots, a third of them would come in the lane, and early on we almost went overboard, standing and staring at Stefanie, no one else was playing. That and rebounding were the two things we talked about the most.â€
The message was received loud and clear on the rebounding side as well, as the Huskies thoroughly controlled the boards, at one point having a 15-1 advantage before finishing with a 46-16 rebounding edge. Kelly Faris led them with nine rebounds in 32 minutes, along with a team high eight assists. In one of the stranger stat lines you will see, though, Faris did not score.
Tiffany Hayes certainly scored, however, as the senior guard responded with 23 points including two three pointers to go with five rebounds, two assists and three steals to lead the Huskies. Freshmen Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks each scored twelve points, Banks on perfect 5-5 shooting, and Bria Hartley was the fifth Husky in double figures with 10.
Fairfield is a well-coached, precision team, who showed flashes in running precision sets and motion, which will give them reason to expect success in the MAAC this season. Leading scorer Taryn Johnson was hindered by trying to defend the bigger Huskies in the paint, and her foul trouble certainly hampered the Stags’ offense. Point guard Desiree Pina was impressive though, and unflappable, â€œa warriorâ€ per Frager. Pina led the team with 12 points and two assists with only one turnover versus the aggressive Husky press.
At halftime, the 2001-02 UConn undefeated championship team was added to the Huskies of Honor display at Gampel Pavilion, and a thrilled crowd of 8,106 welcomed back Sue Bird, Stacy Marron, Maria Conlon, Ashley Battle and, for the first time since the display began, Svetlana Abrosimova. In another nice display, UConn re-dedicated Abrosimova’s personal display, so she could get the individual recognition she deserves.