With the greatest of ease
Cincinnati - Stefanie Dolson scored 15 points in limited time Saturday night, and No. 3 Connecticut's tough, physical defense allowed only nine points in the first half, setting up a 67-31 victory over Cincinnati.
UConn (18-1, 5-1 Big East) has won six in a row since a 73-72 loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 5. The Huskies were coming off a 30-point win over No. 4 Duke on Monday, outscoring the Blue Devils 47-19 in the second half to send them to their first loss of the season.
They put this one away in the first half, allowing a season-low nine points.
The Bearcats (8-11, 0-6) have lost six in a row overall. They've been held to 45 points or fewer in each of last three games, including a 72-33 loss at Louisville. Cincinnati's problem: A few players are hurt and nobody can score besides Dayeesha Hollins, who leads the team with 16.3 points per game. No one else averages more than 7.7 points.
Hollins finished with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting. Alyesha Lovett had a team-high nine points.
UConn is 8-0 all-time against Cincinnati, winning by 21, 10, 37, 31, 31, 34, 43 and 36 points. Coach Jamelle Elliott, a former UConn player and assistant coach to Geno Auriemma, fell to 0-4 against her former team. Auriemma has never lost to a former player or coach.
He and Elliott had a friendly and animated exchange at midcourt after the pregame introductions. Then, Elliott watched the Huskies' defense push her team around and take it apart.
The Bearcats enjoyed the opening minute, hitting a pair of jumpers for a 4-0 lead. UConn's physical man-to-man defense didn't allow Hollins to touch the ball - she got only one shot in the first 11 minutes - and quickly took control. After that encouraging first minute, the Bearcats went only 1 of 22 from the field with 10 turnovers the rest of the half, scoring only five more points.
The Huskies led 41-9 at halftime, the fewest points UConn has allowed in an opening half this season. Hollins took five shots in the half and missed all of them. Elliott repeatedly yelled, "Get open!" and covered her face with both hands after one particularly bad possession.
Dolson - at 6-foot-5 the tallest player on the floor - helped the Huskies pull ahead by double-digits. She made a 3-pointer and had 11 of UConn's first 17 points, getting easy baskets inside and hitting her first five shots overall.
Connecticut closed the half with a 24-1 run that included points from six players, underscoring the Huskies' depth. It was 58-13 early in the second half before Jasmine Whitfield hit Cincinnati's first 3-pointer of the game after the Bearcats missed their first 10 shots from behind the arc.
"They're deeper this year with Breanna Stewart coming off the bench," Elliott said. "I was telling Geno last night: I think 1-through-10 they're able to maintain that level that those starters play with. The last two or three years, he hasn't had that depth. This year, I think he has that."
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