Brianna Banks (13) scores against Oakland.
Dec. 19, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - After going nearly two weeks without playing a game, Connecticut is tuning up for its upcoming matchup against top-ranked Stanford at the end of the month.
"We were working really hard and just trying to get better over the 13 days," said Stewart, who came off the bench for the first time this season. "But there's the part where you just want to get on the court and you want to play. I think we were all really excited for that. We wanted to come out aggressive and show everyone that we have been getting better during these 13 days off."
UConn (9-0) plays Saturday against Hartford before traveling to California to take on No. 1 Stanford on Dec. 29.
"We just wanted to make sure we worked on things (against Oakland)," Stewart said. "I think we just really were focusing on things that we need to improve on, so when we go to Stanford we'll be ready to play in an atmosphere that's very intense against a good team."
Hartley scored 19 of points in the first half and UConn led 61-12 at the break. The Huskies shot 51 percent for the game and Oakland was 15 percent (7 for 47).
Led by Stewart, UConn's reserves accounted for 44 points. The Huskies had a 56-26 rebounding advantage and outscored Oakland 52-4 in the paint. Stewart had a team-high 13 rebounds, eight on offense.
Elizabeth Hamlet led Oakland (5-6) with 14 points.
Oakland coach Beckie Francis said it was difficult to contend on the boards without Olivia Nash, who leads the team in scoring (11.8) and rebounds (11.8). Bethany Watterworth, who led the Summit League in scoring last season, also sat out with an injury.
"That really kills us," Francis said about not having Nash. "In the first six games that we played, she was getting 15 rebounds, 13 rebounds and everybody else was watching. I knew that that was going to be an issue and it was apparent."
The Huskies were playing for the first time since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown that claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults last Friday.
A pregame ceremony was held to honor the 26 victims. There was a moment of silence and UConn players and cheerleaders formed a circle at midcourt holding 26 lighted candles.
"I don't know that you can either be on the court or be in the stands and be a part of that ceremony and not be effected by it," UConn coach Geno Auriemmasaid. "That's something that the younger you are, the more you're effected by it."
Huskies players wore small patches on the front of their game jerseys with the letters "SH." The letters were white with a green background, the school colors at the elementary school located about 50 miles away from the XL Center. In addition, UConn bench personnel and others associated with the game wore special green and white ribbons.
Oakland also honored the 26 individuals. Players each attached a green ribbon to the laces on their sneakers, and coaches and team staff wore green and white ribbons on their jackets or sweaters.
UConn scored the first 14 points and led 26-4 at the midway point of the first half. Hartley scored 12 points in the first 4:23, matching her season high.
"I think it helps me build my confidence a little bit because I feel like it was down," said Hartley, who came in averaging 7.5 points a game.
The Huskies made 25 of 38 field goals in the opening 20 minutes, including 9 of 18 3-pointers, and took a team-record 40 shots from beyond the arc. UConn's previous high for 3-point attempts was 39 against Syracuse on Jan. 17, 2009.
"Nothing was broken. We just needed to fine-tune some things," Auriemma said. "I said, `Make sure we're good at those things,' and we were."