STORRS, Conn. – Winter storm Nemo shut down the state of Connecticut over the weekend, dropping record amounts of snow and inducing higher levels of stress. But the severity of the storm didn't seem to impact the third-ranked Connecticut women. The local plowman may not have shown up on time, but the Huskies made it to work Sunday.
UConn cruised to a comfortable 91-44 victory over DePaul behind a game-high 23 points for Stefanie Dolson.
"I'm really thrilled for her and how far she's come. I'd be hard pressed to find somebody who I think is playing, that I've seen, better than she's playing right now," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Dolson, who played just 24 minutes, scored 22 of her 23 points in the first half. By halftime, Dolson had nearly half of UConn's 52 points. She finished the afternoon shooting 6-for-8 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free throw line, a new career-high in free throw attempts and makes for Dolson.
Although she was only two points from her career-high, Dolson felt that her scoring was not nearly as important as her job guarding Katherine Harry. The leader in rebounds for DePaul (17-7, 6-4 Big East), Harry averages 11.4 rebounds per game, but against UConn (22-1, 9-1 Big East), she did not grab a single rebound.
"Going into the game we knew she was averaging double figure rebounds and for all the post (players) that was definitely an emphasis for us," Dolson said. "I think we did a great job of just playing great defense and finishing off with the box out."
Dolson looked more like a point-center than a post player on Sunday, dishing out six assists and grabbing five rebounds. According to Bria Hartley, who finished with four assists and seven rebounds, the two laughed about their role reversal after the game.
"I think we have just a lot of people on our team that can make plays," said Hartley about the source of offensive production for the Huskies. "I know we had to focus on boxing out and getting rebounds, so that's one thing I tried to do today and [Dolson] has always been a great post passer and I always thought that. It's good when she's able to find people and for those people to knock down those shots."
Hartley finished 18 points, shooting 3 of sd on 3-pointers and 7-for-11 from the floor.
Harry was not the only marquee player who struggled for DePaul. Brittany Hrynko, who came into Sunday's contest averaging 16.2 points per game, was held to three points and did not score from the field. Hrynko went 0-for-15 from the floor, missed all seven of her 3-point attempts and scored all three of her points on free throws attempts.
"When that happens, that's a function of the defense," coach Doug Bruno said about DePaul's shooting. "It's not a function of we missed shots... there is a reason you miss them. You miss because you're put under duress by the opposition."
The Blue Devils shot 26.2 percent from the floor, compared to the Huskies' 56.7 percent. All 10 players for the Huskies scored in the game, including Morgan Tuck who was listed questionable for the game. She finished with five points and three rebounds. Breanna Stewart finished the game with nine points and nine rebounds and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had a quiet shooting performance, scoring eight points.
The Blue Devils did not have an easy time making it to the game. Leaving O'Hare International airport at 10 a.m., they arrived at Gampel Pavilion at 2:15 for the 3:30 game because their bus was delayed due to poor driving conditions. However, Bruno did not blame the offensive struggles on the traveling.
"It's something that our athlete in today's day and age isn't used to, but that's the way it goes," Bruno said. "You just have to strap them on and play. I really can't let that be any part of it. You just can't have excuses like that. You really can't."
Despite the heavy amounts of snow and tough driving conditions that were left from Nemo, an estimated 8,861 fans attended Sunday's game. Auriema, did not expect many fans at the game.
"They're probably our absolute strongest fans and probably have been with us the longest," Auriemma said. "Maybe we should lock them up for a couple days before every weekend game and then let them out on the weekends."