UConn Huskies open 2013-14 campaign in style, defeating Division II Gannon 101-35

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STORRS, Conn. – It was about what you would expect for a preseason game between the defending national champions and a high-caliber Division II team.

The Connecticut Huskies came out poised, controlled and determined, running out to a 55-10 halftime lead, on their way to defeating Gannon 101-35 Friday night in front of over 7,000 fans.

Sophomore Breanna Stewart had a great all-around game, leading the team with 21 points and 13 rebounds, plus four assists and a block that cleared the scorers table to the roar of her teammates.

Junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, whose first shot was an NBA-distance three-pointer, and scored 20 points in 20 minutes before taking a seat, returning only when Moriah Jefferson rolled her ankle with five minutes left for two more. Her dive over the scorers table for a loose ball was one of the game highlights for the Huskies.

“It feels good,” Mosqueda-Lewis said about the start of a new season. “It’s a lot different atmosphere when you finally get to play in a game, instead of just practicing against the practice guys.”

Seniors Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson began their final Husky campaign with some questions still out there regarding their health issues. Hartley, who missed USA senior national team pre-camp due to ankle soreness, was a confident floor leader, scoring the first points of the game, and continuing on into the second half, finishing with 12 points and five assists. Dolson, who took the summer off due to lingering foot issues, was mobile and effective on both ends of the court, had eight points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.

Moriah Jefferson started and scored 13 points before her injury, and Brianna Banks played with an effort and enthusiasm that showed how much she missed playing with her ACL injury last season.

“It was fun, I’m glad to be out there again,” Banks said through a broad smile.

Freshman Saniya Chong shook off some early adjustments on the defensive end (two quick fouls) and showed her quickness and ability to crossover in scoring her first bucket as a Husky.

Overall, head coach Geno Auriemma was pleased with his team’s debut, despite the inherent limitations that go with an exhibition game versus a Division II opponent.

“Everyone of these is exactly the same,” he said, “some just take a little bit longer to get going, some are just pointless to play because you play down to the level of your competition, and there’s nothing you can do about it. We just try to work on the things we know we’re going to need to be good down the road and by doing that, one of our strengths is we play pretty good defense year in and year out. So one of the problems we run into when we play in these games is the other team can’t score. It’s not ideal for anybody, so you have got to take everything with a grain of salt, but it’s an opportunity to get in front of the fans, put your uniforms on and go play.”

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