Jan. 11, 2014
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut center Kiah Stokes doesn't usually get a chance to make an impact in a game unless other front-court players are having problems.
On Saturday, UConn played without injured Morgan Tuck, and Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart were on the bench early with foul trouble.
Stokes responded by hauling down a career-high 18 rebounds, scoring six points and blocking three shots to help UConn to an 80-36 rout of Temple.
"I got my chance today, and I knew I had to make some kind of an impact," the junior from Iowa said. "So if rebounding and blocking is what I have to do, then that's what I have to do."
Bria Hartley led the Huskies with 19 points. Moriah Jefferson added 13 points and Stewart scored 12 for the Huskies (17-0, 5-0 American), who extended their winning streak to 23 games in a home game played 80 miles from campus in Bridgeport.
Erica Covile had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead Temple (8-7, 2-3), which has lost three of its last four games.
The Owls stayed with UConn early, trailing just 13-12 after a 3-pointer by Feyonda Fitzgerald. But UConn went on an 11-2 run from there and led 39-22 at halftime.
Jefferson had three steals in the first 3 minutes of the second half, and Hartley hit a 3-pointer that capped a 9-2 run to make it 47-24. A layup by Stokes capped a 17-0 run that gave UConn a 67-27 lead and turned the game into a rout.
The Huskies held Temple without a basket for almost 7 minutes during that stretch.
"We wanted to come out in the second half and make sure we put a stamp on the game," Jefferson said. "We played a little bit slower in the first half and so we wanted to come out and be aggressive on defense."
UConn outscored Temple 44-14 in the paint, despite playing much of the first half without Dolson, who had three early fouls, and Stewart, who sat with two. Dolson finished the game with eight points and seven of UConn's 14 blocked shots. Stewart had three blocks.
Temple outrebounded UConn 42-39, despite Stokes' effort, which included seven offensive boards. The Owls had 22 offensive boards, to just 12 for UConn.
"At least we were being aggressive and trying to get in there against them," said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza.
The game, played during UConn's winter break, gave the fans and donors in Fairfield County a chance to see the team. A sold-out crowd of more than 9,200 watched the team's first regular-season "home" game played outside of Storrs or Hartford.
"It had almost that big-game feel," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "I don't know that on the schedule you look and say, `Well Temple's a big game, but there is something to be said for going someplace where they don't get to see you very often and they are very appreciative and they enjoy it."
The Huskies are averaging just under 8,000 fans in nine home games in Storrs and Hartford this season. The Huskies had played 10 NCAA tournament games in Bridgeport and lost just once, to Duke in overtime in the 2006 regional final.
UConn has won 23 straight games, dating back to last year's run to the program's eighth national title. That's the seventh-longest winning streak in the history of the program, which holds the NCAA record at 90 games set back in 2010.
The Huskies head to Texas for their final non-conference game of the season on Monday against No. 9 Baylor. UConn has already beaten five ranked opponents this season. Baylor and Louisville are the only ranked teams left on the Huskies' schedule.
Tuck left practice on Thursday because of swelling in her right knee. She needed arthroscopic surgery on that knee earlier in the season and missed eight games. Auriemma said she should be ready to play next week.
Cardoza, a former UConn assistant, falls to 0-2 against her mentor. UConn defeated Temple 90-36 in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament. The Owls coaching staff also included former UConn forward Willnett Crockett, who won two national championships while playing for the Huskies.