By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Bria Hartley showed no ill effects from an ankle injury, playing one of her best games of the season.
Hartley had 16 points and seven rebounds to help No. 3 Connecticut beat 15th-ranked Louisville 72-58 on Tuesday night.
“When she’s playing like she played tonight and has the attitude she played with tonight, she makes a huge difference,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
The junior guard sprained her left ankle _ the same one she hurt over the summer while playing for USA Basketball _ in the first half of Saturday’s game against Marquette.
“It felt a lot better than it did the last couple days,” Hartley said. “Getting out there, getting moving was good.”
Auriemma admitted he wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to get out of Hartley.
“I didn’t have any expectations going in,” he said. “One of those, let’s see what happens. She played a lot of minutes. I figured why not. She played like the old Bria. With the stretch we got coming up, I don’t worry about her.”
UConn will host Syracuse on Saturday then play No. 4 Duke on Monday.
While Hartley was able to play, UConn was missing freshman Breanna Stewart for the second straight game. The budding star sprained her left ankle in practice Friday. She did partake in pregame warmups, but didn’t get into the game.
“I think she’s come along a lot faster than we initially thought when she first got hurt,” Auriemma said. “She looks good. If it was an emergency she could have played tonight. I’m expecting her to be fully ready on Saturday.”
The Huskies (15-1, 3-1 Big East) didn’t need her. They built a 14-point halftime lead behind Hartley and Stefanie Dolson and Louisville could only get within 11 the rest of the way.
Dolson also had 16 points while Kelly Faris had 13 points and seven assists. She also had seven turnovers.
Shoni Schimmel scored 14 points and Antonita Slaughter added 13 to lead Louisville (14-4, 2-2).
“I was really proud of the way we played,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I thought we came out and really competed. We couldn’t get a six- or eight-point run together. We hit some great shots. Slaughter had some great looks at 3. We had it 11 and she had a wide open look. She’s going to hit that a majority of the time.”
UConn led 16-12 midway through the first half before Hartley took over. She followed up a stepback 3-pointer with a three-point play that extended the advantage to double digits for the first time.
“She looked fine to me,” Walz said. “She shoots the ball well.”
Louisville got within 28-20 before the Huskies closed the half on a 9-3 run. Faris hit a 3-pointer to start the spurt and Moriah Jefferson had a nifty burst up the floor accelerating past all the Louisville players for an acrobatic layup. UConn was up 37-23 at the break.
Connecticut has won 12 of the 13 meetings with Louisville with its lone loss coming in the first contest back in 1993.
The Cardinals will be leaving for the ACC at some point over the next two years.
“Louisville brings out the best in us,” Auriemma said. “Since (Jeff)’s gotten the job they’ve had incredible success. Maybe we keep playing them down the road once we find out what our situation is.”