Storrs — Breanna Stewart had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead top-ranked UConn to a 67-34 win over Cincinnati on Sunday in the teams’ first matchup as members of the American Athletic Conference.
Moriah Jefferson and Bria Hartley each added 12 points for Connecticut (13-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference), which won despite being held 19 points below its season average.
Cincinnati (7-5, 0-1 American), which is winless in nine meetings against the Huskies, was led by Jeanise Randolph who had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 with a right elbow injury 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.
The Huskies played five Top 25 teams during its 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 during 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 Taurassi 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.