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Hartley’s Big Day Leads UConn Past Rutgers

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Bria Hartley (Courtesy Bob Stowell/UConn)

Bria Hartley (Courtesy Bob Stowell/UConn)

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By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) _ Bria Hartley acknowledged she is a streaky shooter. She had one of her good days against Rutgers.

The senior guard scored a career-high 30 points, including hitting six 3-pointers, to lead top-ranked Connecticut to a 94-64 win over No. 23 Rutgers on Sunday.

“If I hit them I keep going, if I miss them all I keep going,” Hartley said. “I’ve got to stay with my shot and I’ll be confident that I’ll eventually make them.”

Hartley didn’t miss too many, making 11 of her 15 attempts. The last time she played at Rutgers, she had a game to forget, going scoreless in just four minutes. Hartley wasn’t the only Huskies player hitting shots. The team shot a blistering 57 percent from the field.

“I think offensively we all were on the same page and had a really good flow the entire game,” Hartley said. “The mixture of shots inside and outside and everyone was able to hit shots.”

UConn (19-0, 6-0 American) has won 25 straight games, the sixth longest streak in school history.

The Huskies raced out to an 18-6 lead in the game’s first five minutes. Breanna Stewart had eight of the team’s first 18 points as Connecticut didn’t miss many from the field. UConn extended the advantage to 41-20 on the 6-foot-4 sophomore’s layup with 4:58 left before Rutgers closed the half with a 9-2 burst to trail 43-29 at the half.

“We got such great balance, Stewie and Stef (Dolson) kept things together,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “It was a great team effort, everyone played great.”

Rutgers (13-4, 4-2) cut it to 12 before UConn put it away behind Stewart and Hartley. Stewart finished with 23 points.

Freshman Tyler Scaife scored a season-high 22 points and Kahleah Copper added 20 for the Scarlet Knights.

UConn was still playing without sophomore forward Morgan Tuck, who is dealing with swelling in her right knee. It will be the 11th game this season that she has missed due to knee-related issues, including the last three.

This could be the final meeting in New Jersey for the two schools as Rutgers is headed to the Big Ten next season. Both coaches have hinted they wouldn’t mind seeing the series continue.

“It’s not to say it’s last time we’ll be down here,” Auriemma said. “I talk to Vivian about this kind of stuff. I don’t imagine it will be last time down here. It’s good to bring your team down here in this kind of environment.”

UConn has dominated the series winning 31 of the 37 meetings, though Rutgers did win five of eight from 2005 and 2008. The Huskies have won the last 11 games.

“It’s Connecticut, and it’s everybody else,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “Whether people want to do deal with it or not. It’s Connecticut and everyone else. Talent wise it’s clear they are there. Coaching wise it’s clear they are there.”

Rutgers, which entered the Top 25 this week for the first time since the final poll of the 2011-12 season, has dropped two straight overall after its nine-game winning streak ended. That was the school’s longest since the Scarlet Knights won 12 in a row from Dec. 8, 2007 to Jan. 26, 2008. Rutgers was once again done in by a lack of contribution from its bench. The Scarlet Knights reserves didn’t score in the loss to Memphis on Tuesday and got their first point on a free throw with 13:42 left in the game. They finished with three points.

In the first half Scaife had 15 points and Copper had 10. The rest of the team was a combined 2 for 11 from the field.

With the Huskies playing on Sunday, this year will mark the first time since 1995 that UConn didn’t play on Martin Luther King’s birthday.

___

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

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