Baylor All-American Brittney Griner has moved on to the WNBA. The departure provides UConn senior All-American Stefanie Dolson with the opportunity to establish herself as the nation’s top center this season.
Dolson took an assertive step in that direction Saturday in the season opener against Hartford. She finished with 16 points (7-of-8 FG), six rebounds and three assists to lead the top-ranked Huskies to an 89-34 victory before 8,186 at the XL Center.
Moriah Jefferson added a career-high 17 points, five assists and three steals in 25 minutes for defending national champion UConn. Breanna Stewart had 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and five blocks, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 12 points and two rebounds.
The Huskies shot 60.0 percent from the field. They also scored 27 points off of 22 turnovers by the Hawks.
Deanna Mayza led Hartford with eight points.
STAR OF THE GAME: Stefanie Dolson. She scored all of her 16 points in the first half, making her first seven shots, and added six rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes.
KEYS TO THE WIN: The Huskies scored 18 straight points to ignite a 46-10 run over the final 18:04 of the first half. … The Huskies shot 65.7 percent from the field in the first half.
WORTH NOTING: UConn Class of 2014 target Kia Nurse, a 6-0 guard from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was in attendance. … Dolson was a combined 8-of-22 from 3-point range entering this season. She was 2-of-2 Saturday. … The Huskies have won 18 straight season openers dating back to an 83-81 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Hall of Fame Tip-off Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. Nov. 19, 1995. … The Huskies are 14-0 all-time against the Hawks. … UConn coach Geno Auriemma improved to 39-0 when facing a former player or assistant coach serving as either a head coach or an assistant. … Former Kolbe Cathedral star Cherelle Moore, who is recovering from an illness, did not play for Hartford. She is expected back within a week.
UP NEXT: Monday vs. No. 3 Stanford at Gampel Pavilion, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)