By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Top-ranked UConn has been banged up, but barely challenged while playing 10 games in the first month of the season.
Bria Hartley scored 20 of her 25 points before halftime as the undefeated Huskies finished that stretch by routing UC Davis 97-37 on Thursday night.
Breanna Stewart added 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for UConn, which was playing with just six scholarship players because of injuries. It was the Huskies’ final tuneup before a showdown on Dec. 17 with No. 2 Duke.
“With finals coming up and the end of the semester, it’s kind of nice to be able to focus on schoolwork and at the same time prepare for Duke,” Stewart said. “After a while, fatigue gets to you. But it just makes us in better shape.”
The Huskies used an early 22-0 run to break this game open and led by 43 points at halftime.
Hartley outscored UC Davis 20-17 by herself in the first half. The senior guard was 8 of 9 from the floor during the game, including all five she attempted from 3-point range.
She became the 19th player at UConn to reach 1,500 points in her career.
“It means a lot,” Hartley said. “I try my best to contribute to this team and I’ve always been kind of a natural scorer, so I’m going to go out there and score for my teammates.”
Sydnee Fipps scored 13 points and Kelsey Harris had 12 to lead UC Davis (2-5).
The Aggies were able to stay in the game for a while, with the help of a clock malfunction that kept both teams off the court for about 5 minutes in the first half. After that, it was all UConn.
The Huskies kept the Aggies from scoring for almost 6 minutes, turning a 13-7 lead into a 35-7 advantage on a 3-pointer from Saniya Chong.
Idit Oryon had a 3-point attempt blocked by Breanna Stewart on the other end, but Fipps grabbed the ball and put it back up and in to end that scoring streak. Fipps had nine of the Aggies’ 17 first-half points, but also picked up three fouls.
“It’s tough to score in the paint against a team like UConn,” UC Davis coach Jennifer Gross said. “(Fipps) found ways to split into gaps and protected the ball really well and used different sides of the basket to score. I was really impressed with her early. I was disappointed when she got into foul trouble.”
Brianna Banks’ free throw gave the Huskies their first 40-point lead, 55-15, and UConn led 60-17 at halftime. Banks had eight points, the only one of UConn’s scholarship players who didn’t reach double figures.
Stefanie Dolson had 18 points, and Moriah Jefferson had 11 points and nine assists. Chong finished with 10 points.
The Huskies opened the second half on a 9-0 run.
Connecticut center Kiah Stokes sat out the game as a precaution after rolling an ankle in practice on Wednesday. She had been averaging 8.2 points and 9 rebounds this season. UConn has played the last eight games without Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a preseason All-American, and Morgan Tuck, another key front-court player.
Mosqueda-Lewis, a preseason All-American, sustained a nerve contusion to her elbow during a win over Stanford on Nov. 11, and Tuck had minor surgery the day after that game to repair cartilage in her right knee. Both are hoping to back for the Duke game.
The win was UConn’s 91st in the last 94 non-conference games. The Huskies also have now won 65 of the last 68 games they have played in Hartford.
The biggest ovation of the night came for a Stamford couple, Denis and Britta Nayden, who were honored before the game for donating $3 million to the basketball program. Denis Nayden is the former CEO of GE Capital. Both he and his wife are alumni.
The gift includes $1 million toward the school’s basketball training facility, a $40 million facility that is set to open in the spring. They also have agreed to spend up to $1 million, matching any gift for the center from former UConn players, and another $1 million for scholarships for student athletes and trainers.
UConn has 58 former basketball players who have played in either the NBA or WNBA.
UC Davis stays on the East Coast for another few days and visits Hofstra on Saturday.
The Aggies have never beaten a Top-25 opponent 12 tries. They lost to No. 6 Stanford in November, 66-48. This was their first meeting with UConn.
The Huskies won’t play again until they visit the Blue Devils on Dec. 17.
“That’s like, the matchup of the year,” Hartley said.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)