No. 2 UConn women rout UCLA 86-50
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) With the first part of their season finished, Geno Auriemma knows his UConn Huskies aren't as good yet as the teams that won the last two national championships. But they are getting better.
Breanna Stewart scored 22 points to lead a balanced offense and No. 2 UConn beat UCLA 86-50 on Sunday in the Naismith Hall of Fame women's holiday showcase at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
''When we're good, we're really good,'' Auriemma said. ''We have flashes where we're good. We're not as talented as we were last year. We're not as experienced as we were last year. Last year we made things look real easy just about all the time. It's not going to be like that.''
This was the latest double-digit win for the Huskies since losing to Stanford in early November. UConn has won its seven games since by an average of 37 points.
''We've gotten better in the last month since November,'' Auriemma said. ''We've gotten a lot better. I think we found out today that we need to get a lot better. We gave up 19 offensive rebounds, that's a lot.''
UConn (8-1) got off to a slow start and only led 24-18 with 7 minutes left in the first half before going on a 16-2 run over the next 6:30 to take a 20-point lead. Five Huskies scored during the burst that was capped by Stewart's layup with 33 seconds left.
UCLA (4-6) scored the final five points of the half to close to 40-25 at the break.
Jordin Canada tried to keep the Bruins in the game, scoring seven straight points during one stretch. Her layup made it 50-37, but it wasn't enough. UConn scored 13 of the next 15, including an acrobatic putback by Gabby Williams, to put the game away.
UCLA coach Cori Close has challenged her young team, which had the consensus No. 1 freshmen class coming in this season. The Bruins have already played Top 25 teams North Carolina, Texas and Nebraska. UCLA return home for a game against No. 5 Notre Dame next Sunday.
Close hopes that playing such a tough nonconference schedule will prepare her team for the rigorous Pac-12 schedule and hopefully a run in the NCAA tournament.
''I told our team that there's two words they need to go home with, humble, we got humbled in a lot of ways and hope,'' Close said. ''We had some positive moments and showed some glimpses of what we can grow into. We have a long way to go.''
Kari Korver had 14 points to lead the Bruins.
UCLA: This was just the third meeting between the schools, with UConn winning both the previous ones. The last was in 1999. The two teams will meet for three straight years starting in 2016-17. ... Bruins junior Nirra Fields and UConn freshman Kia Nurse were teammates for Canada in the world championship this past fall.
UConn: The Huskies continued their tour of the state with a second straight game outside of their home arena in Storrs. UConn beat DePaul on Friday in Bridgeport and now played its first regular season game at the Mohegan Sun. UConn's last game on campus was Nov. 23 and don't play there again until Jan. 14 against Temple. The Huskies have three games in Hartford at the XL Center before then. ... UConn will be back at Mohegan Sun for the American Athletic Conference tournament in March.
''We got a great fan base in Connecticut everyone knows that,'' Auriemma said. ''We got loyal and passionate fans. Going to Bridgeport the other night proved it. Coming here today proved it.''
UConn scored 32 points off UCLA's 21 turnovers. The Bruins had just four points on the Huskies' 11 mistakes.
UCLA: hosts Notre Dame next Sunday.
UConn: hosts SMU to open up American Athletic Conference play on Saturday.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg