Top-Ranked UConn routs Cincinnati 67-34

Cincinnati had a simple game plan against top-ranked Connecticut

– stop the Huskies’ transition game, and force UConn to make at

least four or five passes on each offensive possession.

The Bearcats forced UConn into a half-court game and held the

Huskies to 19 points below their season average, but lost 67-34 on

Sunday.

”They still beat us by 30; they are the No. 1 team in the

country,” said Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott, a former UConn

player and assistant coach. ”But there are some small individual

goals that we accomplished that’s going to help our guys move

forward from this 30-point loss.”

Cincinnati (7-5, 0-1 American Athletic Conference), which is

winless in nine meetings against the Huskies, was led by Jeanise

Randolph who had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Breanna Stewart recorded her fourth straight double-double for

Connecticut (13-0, 1-0 American), scoring 12 points and pulling

down 12 rebounds. She also had four steals and two blocked shots.

Moriah Jefferson and Bria Hartley each added 12 points.

The Huskies held Cincinnati scoreless for the game’s first six

minutes and led 16-0 before Kayla Cook got the Bearcats on the

board with a 3-pointer. UConn led by 13 at halftime and used a 16-3

run in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had seven points during the Huskies early

run, but also picked up three early fouls and had to sit for the

final 14 minutes of the first half and didn’t score again.

”We kind of got stuck, and we stayed stuck for the rest of the

first half,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

Cincinnati responded by scoring 14 of the next 20 points and

outscoring UConn 20-17 the rest of the half. A 3-pointer by Marley

Hill just before the halftime buzzer cut the UConn lead to

33-20.

”After that first run they got on us, I thought we played

pretty good basketball up until the end of the first half,”

Elliott said.

Cincinnati cut the lead to 35-24 before UConn took control.

Hartley went end-to-end after rebounding a missed jumper by Bianca

Quisenberry to give UConn a 51-27 lead and force a Cincinnati

timeout.

”It’s always good to win a game when you’re not making shots

and you have to find other ways to compete and get into the game,”

Hartley said. ”Even though our offense wasn’t good today, we were

able to come out and play well defensively.

UConn, which came in shooting almost 52 percent from the floor,

was held to 41 percent, including 36 percent in the first half. But

the Bearcats were worse, shooting 25 percent, hitting just 13 of 53

shots from the floor.

Mosqueda-Lewis said that had a lot to do with Stewart getting in

the passing lanes and disrupting the Bearcats’ offense.

”Coach has been talking about how we have to be complete

players and we have to be mature,” she said. ”When you miss

shots, you can’t disappear, especially when you’re as good a player

as she is. You have to do other things.”

The Bearcats’, who came in on a five-game winning streak, also

got a bit banged up. The team’s leading scorer, Dayeesha Hollins,

went out in the first half after hyperextending her right elbow

diving for a loose ball. She returned, with that elbow heavily

wrapped, and finished with just five points. Forward Alexis Durley

also went down hard after a first-half foul by Stefanie Dolson and

came back into the game with her right shoulder wrapped.

”I think Day’s (injury) is a little more serious,” said

Elliott. ”I just hope with some treatment these guys will be ready

to go in a couple days.”

The Huskies played five Top 25 teams during their non-conference

schedule, with Baylor still to come in January, winning those games

by an average of 22 points. The conference schedule promises to be

less of a challenge. UConn and Louisville are the only ranked teams

in the American and they will face each other twice.

UConn is 64-7 against AAC opponents with six of those losses

coming to Rutgers, a team they have not lost to in the last five

seasons. The other defeat came against Louisville, in 1993.

The Huskies took time before Sunday’s game to honor their

national championship teams from 2003 and 2004, unveiling plaques

on the arena’s wall of honor. Several former players attended the

ceremony, but star Diana Taurasi was not among them. She is playing

basketball overseas.

UConn now heads south for a New Year’s Day game against Central

Florida. Cincinnati will visit SMU.