The Huskies may have been without Caroline Doty and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for their second and final exhibition contest Wednesday, and perhaps that's why they got off to a slow start against Pace. Fortunately, basketball games are 40 minutes, which was more than enough time for UConn to, well, do what UConn does.
Before an 18-4 Huskies run that began midway through the first half, Pace kept things relatively close, trailing 26-11.
After the half, UConn found its form, scoring 21 of the first 25 points. By the time it was over, the Huskies had 85 points, Pace just 35. Senior Tiffany Hayes led all scorers with 24 points, sophomore guard Bria Hartley added 16, and her U-19 US National Team teammate Stefanie Dolson was good for 13 more.
After the game, coach Geno Auriemma was asked about his team's slow start.
“The way we played in the first half was pretty much what happens in practice a lot," he said. "We are not going to be a great offensive rebounding team because we lost our best offensive rebounder. We are not going to be a great defensive rebounding team because we lost our best defensive rebounder. Right now, we’re not a great three-point shooting team with Caroline and Kaleena sitting on the bench. It is disjointed at times, in practice, and that’s what it looked like in the first half. The second half was better.”
About Doty and Mosqueda-Lewis -- can we expect to see them in Sunday's regular-season opener against Holy Cross?
“Our next practice is Friday and Caroline is going to practice for sure on Friday," said Auriemma. "She is scheduled to play on Sunday. That will help us an awful lot. Kaleena is scheduled to practice Friday, hopefully, she’s not a definite.”
Despite their No. 4 national ranking, the Huskies are a young team. In addition to Mosqueda-Lewis, the 2011 national high school player of the year, UConn's highly touted freshman class also includes Kiah Stokes and Brianna Banks. Auriemma spoke about their progress through practice and the exhibitions.
“Kiah has a lot of natural ability," he began. "She will hopefully learn how to use that on a consistent basis. There are a lot of skills that she has and I think one of the main factors going forward, with the season starting Sunday, is we have to figure out a way to get Kiah to play at an intensity level where she can use those skills."
“[Brianna] is a little like Kiah, in respect to being a freshman. When she has it going, she feels good and just like that it goes away. We have to make sure that those moments become less and less. She has got a lot of good things that she can do, but right now they come in spurts. Little, by little we need to make sure that [the spurts] last longer.”
UConn's margin of victory in their two exhibition games: 99 points. Next up: the regular season -- it's finally here.