No. 1 Huskies clinch tie for AAC title ... but don't like sharing

Bria Hartley, left, and Stefanie Dolson pose for the cameras with coach Geno Auriemma following Senior Day activities in Storrs on Saturday. The No. 1 Huskies then went out and made quick work of No. 24 Rutgers 72-35.

Storrs — How odd that after 30 games and abject perfection, nothing's been accomplished. Which is why Geno Auriemma's thoughts, when not reflecting on the sentiment of Senior Day, were already on Louisville.

That's where the top-ranked UConn women are headed now for the opportunity to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship. They clinched a tie Saturday with a 72-35 stroll over No. 24 Rutgers.

"They want a share of the title and they're going to have to beat us to get it," Auriemma said. "We don't share very well here at Connecticut. We're not into having parades if you tie for a league championship."

If Louisville wins the game, a coin flip would determine the top seed for the conference tournament.

"If we want to win it outright, we have to beat a really good team on their home court in front of a soldout building," Auriemma said. "Maybe that's the way it should be. I'm sure Louisville is going to be off the charts ready."

Yet while Auriemma ponders the possibilities of Monday, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer provided a happier forecast.

"I don't think there's anyone that's seriously going to challenge them," she said. "Give all the credit to UConn. There are no other teams that are so well organized and play with that extreme precision and skill.

"What I think doesn't really make a whole heck of a lot of difference," Stringer said. "But this team is one like we have not seen, period. Only Geno could tell you if there's been another team at UConn that's better."

Auriemma appreciated Stringer's sentiments, but wasn't sure if this is his best team in 28 years at Connecticut.

"Not to demean this particular team, but I probably don't give them as much credit as they deserve," Auriemma said. "If we finish undefeated and win the national championship, I might change my mind."

Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds and Bria Hartley scored 20 points to lead the Huskies. Moriah Jefferson had nine points, five rebounds and four assists and Stefanie Dolson had six points and 10 rebounds. Kiah Stokes added 11 rebounds. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who missed the previous four games with mononucleosis, returned and scored seven points in 27 minutes.

The sellout crowd roared for Hartley and Dolson, the day's honorees. Dolson danced to midcourt during the pregame ceremony.

"What better way to go out than the way I came in," Dolson said. "By dancing."

Auriemma: "Those two guys have been under the gun every minute of every day they've been here. I don't think anyone's handled it better than they have for four years. I'm really proud of the way they've handled themselves as people and players."

Rutgers played without leading scorer Kahleah Copper, who missed the game with turf toe.

"We're obviously not very deep offensively," Stringer said. "What's most important is the way (Copper) scores. There's no one else that's doing things like her for us."

Connecticut defeated Rutgers (21-7, 12-5) for the 12th straight time.

Dolson became the fifth player in UConn program history to amass 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, joining Tina Charles, Rebecca Lobo, Maya Moore and Jamelle Elliott.

"You can't measure what Stefanie does just on points," Auriemma said. "She continues to get better and better. This is the way it's supposed to be on senior night. Play well and enjoy yourself. And they did."

Connecticut also set a team record for blocks in a single season. Stokes' block in the first half gave UConn its 251st block and the record.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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