Nov. 23, 2013
STORRS, Conn. (AP) - UConn coach Geno Auriemma challenged his perimeter players to make shots. The Huskies responded early and often.
Breanna Stewart scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures as top-ranked UConn cruised to a 100-46 win over Monmouth in the second day of the Hall of Fame Challenge on Saturday.
Stewart added eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks. It was the third straight game that she scored at least 20 points and fourth time she has eclipsed that total. She is averaging 20 points in seven games.
The Huskies scored the first 12 points and raced out to a 20-5 lead, making eight of their first 10 shots, including four 3-pointers.
"I think we really started strong," Stewart said. "We really wanted to make that our priority, come out and take care of business the first five minutes."
The Huskies (7-0) shot 62 percent in the first half and led 64-24 at the break. It was the most points in a half by UConn this season, surpassing the previous mark of 62 in the first half against Oregon on Nov. 20.
The Huskies opened the second half with a 21-0 run that stretched the lead to 61 points, the largest of the game.
In the first round of the tournament, UConn made just two of its first nine shots in a 96-38 win over Boston University. So there was an emphasis to come out focused against Monmouth.
"It was a huge emphasis," said Moriah Jefferson, who scored 17 points. "We talked about it in the shootaround. We talked about it in the locker room. You always want to come out and start the first five minutes of the game and play well."
UConn played with four reserves. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a preseason All-American, and Morgan Tuck each missed their fifth straight games. With both sidelined for the next few weeks, Auriemma said he expects teams to force UConn away from the basket.
"I think it's going to the theme at least until Kaleena gets back, that people are going to just try to pack it into the lane as much as they can and have us shoot the ball from the perimeter," he said. "We just can't rely on our defense. .We have to make some shots."
"All those guys are pretty good shooters. We spent a lot of time on it and I want to take advantage of it," Auriemma said.
Helena Kurt led Monmouth (0-5) with nine points. Jenny Horvatinovic added eight points and six rebounds for the Hawks.
"I think we gained a lot of confidence from this game, which probably sounds pretty funny," Monmouth coach Jenny Palmateer said. "Honestly, we took care of the ball better than we have in some of our other games. I think that with us being able to execute against a team like UConn sometimes, I think we gained so much confidence."
Auriemma isn't sure how much his team gets from playing teams that are overmatched. The tournament continues Sunday in Hartford with UConn playing St. Bonaventure and Monmouth meeting Boston University.
"Well, you always get something out of everything," Auriemma said. "There's rarely that you walk away and say there was no point to it at all. But it does make it very difficult on the coaches, on the players, on the fans, on everybody."