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Women's Basketball: No. 1 UConn tops Rutgers as Dolson, Hartley honored

By Erica Brancato
On March 2, 2014

After a touching Senior Day tribute to Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, it was back to business at tip for the No. 1 UConn women's basketball team as they defeated No. 24 Rutgers 72-35.
"It was so special. The environment was amazing to have all of these fans come out for the two of us," Dolson said. "To be able to share it with Bria, we came in together as freshmen and endured such similar journeys throughout our careers. To be able to end it together is a moment we will never forget."
Before the game both Hartley and Dolson's numbers were added into the Huskies of Honor along with players like Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi. The two have led the Huskies throughout their four seasons at UConn, making marks on the program.
"I was a little worried about Bria. She doesn't look like it or act like it, but she is a very emotional person," head coach Geno Auriemma said. "I figured she would probably struggle a bit early on and she did, but once she got rolling, she did exactly what she always does in big games. She played well...that is the way it is supposed to be on senior night. You are supposed to play well, you are supposed to enjoy yourself out there, and they did."
Breanna Stewart lit it up early in the first half and never looked back. With over 13 minutes left in the first, Stewart already racked up 11 points for the Huskies allowing an easy lead over the Scarlet Knights. Kiah Stokes also blocked a shot late in the second half allowing UConn to tie their team single season record. With Stokes' three blocks this game, the Huskies were able to tie their record of 251 blocks.
Both Hartley and Dolson shook off their Senior Day jitters early to play their usual dominant games. Hartley racked up 20 points, as she and Stewart were the leading scorers for the team, while Dolson snatched 10 rebounds and two steals. She became the fifth ever player in UConn history with 1,000 rebounds and points.
"I am really proud of her because [rebounding] was not one of her strengths coming out of high school. She has worked really hard on it. She deserves to be in that group," Auriemma said. "She is so unselfish and does so many things for so many people. It is good for her to be recognized like that with some of the all-time greats that we have had here."
Junior Betnijah Laney led the Rutgers' frontcourt with 14 points, as their top scorer Kahleah Cooper was unable to play due to an injury. The rest of the Scarlet Knights tallied 21 total points, which was one point higher than what Hartley scored by herself.
"We're obviously not very deep offensively," Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Strigner said. "What is important about Kahleah is the way she scores...We found out about her injury last night and it was disappointing."
As predicted February quickly turned into March allowing UConn's regular season to fly by. Despite their setbacks with injuries and illnesses, the Huskies have seemed to mesh and improve at the right times. UConn looks to finish out the regular season strong as they travel to No. 3 Louisville for their last regular season game tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. This battle not only determines whether the Huskies remain undefeated in regular season, it also determines who is the American Athletic Conference regular season champion. As of now, both the Huskies and the Cardinals share the regular season title.
"They want a share of the title and they are going to have to beat us to get it. We don't share very well here at Connecticut," Auriemma said. "We are not into having parades if you tie for the league championship. If we want to win it outright, then we will have to beat a really good team on their home court in front of a sold out building."
Beginning in 2006, UConn won five straight regular season championships in the Big East conference, but the Huskies have failed to win the last two seasons. In the new American Athletic Conference, UConn looks to change this pattern.
"I really don't see anyone that seriously is going to challenge them," Stringer said. "I give all credit to UConn. There are no other teams that are so well organized and play with that extreme precision and skill level... I think that this team is one like we have not seen, period."
 


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