No. 1 UConn brushes off Colgate 94-50 for 44th straight win
HAMILTON, N.Y. — Even with distractions all around, Breanna Stewart was her usual self — unflappable and unstoppable.
The senior star of top-ranked Connecticut had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists to become the first player in NCAA history with 300 blocks and 300 assists, leading the Huskies to a 94-50 victory over Colgate on Wednesday night in a game scheduled in her honor.
"Stewie's one of those rare individuals — she seems to be ready for the moments when she needs to be ready," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Today was a perfect example. Whenever the moment calls for her to do something, whenever the spotlight is on her, whenever people are paying attention the most, that seems to be when she plays her best."
In the sellout crowd at Colgate's Cotterell Court were Stewart's younger brother, Conor, and parents Heather and Brian Stewart. They were seated behind the UConn bench with about 100 friends from Syracuse, part of a crowd of 1,782 that packed the tiny arena, which was sold out for a women's basketball game for the first time in school history.
Stewart was 7 for 9 from the floor, 3 of 4 from 3-point range, perfect on five tries from the free throw line, and had four steals and two blocks. And she started flawlessly, going 4 for 4 from the floor — three from beyond the arc — and making two free throws in the first quarter as the Huskies gained a 26-16 lead.
Stewart also had three rebounds, two assists, one block and three steals, the only blemish in the opening period a turnover on an ill-advised pass.
"It's great to see her start the game off the way she did," Auriemma said. "I think it got her in a great groove."
One of the game's great rebounders fell three boards short of her first career triple-double, though she did not play in the fourth quarter.
It hardly mattered.
"The one thing I'll remember about tonight is having the opportunity to come here and play Colgate and having my friends and family watching in front of a sellout crowd," Stewart said. "The people behind our bench were (cheering) non-stop."
Connecticut (7-0) extended its current winning streak to 44 games and improved to 5-0 against Colgate (1-6).
UConn attempted to schedule the game at Syracuse, located about 40 miles away, because Stewart grew up there and was a student at Cicero-North Syracuse High School before choosing to play for the Huskies despite early overtures from the Orange.
Instead of having the top-ranked team in the country in the house — and a former Big East foe to boot — No. 19 Syracuse hosted Coppin State on Wednesday night and won easily, forgoing what likely would have been a decent crowd for a team that averaged 335 fans for its first two games in the cavernous Carrier Dome.
Home games against UConn have produced six of the top 10 crowds in Syracuse history, including a record 4,357 in 2012.
Stewart entered with 303 career blocked shots and 297 assists. Her assist on a fast-break layup by Kia Nurse in the second quarter was No. 300 and gave UConn a 36-16 lead.
"I don't think she was nervous," said Morgan Tuck, who had 20 points for UConn. "I think she was really focused on making sure that as a team we were ready to play."
Colgate stayed close at the start as Katie Curtis and Paige Kriftcher each hit a pair of 3-pointers. Randyll Butler's layup pulled the Raiders to 15-11 with 3:51 left in the first quarter, but the Huskies responded with a 19-5 spurt spanning the first and second periods to take control.
In spite of the lopsided loss, the Raiders were all smiles afterward because they had accomplished several team goals: they matched UConn with 14 offensive rebounds, were outrebounded only 35-29, shot 9 of 19 on 3-pointers, and outscored the Huskies 22-20 in the fourth quarter.
"What an amazing experience for Colgate athletics," coach Nicci Hays Fort said. "We asked them to compete fearlessly, and they did. We made some goals within the game and we made five of eight. I couldn't be prouder."
Kriftcher led Colgate with 21 points on a career-high seven 3-pointers, missing only once. But Josie Stockhill, Colgate's leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, finished with six points on 2-for-10 shooting and had five rebounds in a game-high 32 minutes.
The game left an impact, to be sure.
"From the beginning of the season once our schedule was released, the hype was big," Butler said. "Everything was about Dec. 9. It was great because it really brought the community together.
"But I think the biggest thing from tonight was about all the little girls out there who want to play basketball. That was the best thing."
UConn: Connecticut has won its last 87 games against unranked opponents since a 57-56 loss to St. John's on Feb. 18, 2012, its lone setback in the last 265 such games. ... The previous meeting between the teams was on Nov. 28, 2012, a 101-41 UConn win in Hartford.
Colgate: Stockhill ranks second nationally with 4.5 blocks per game. She needs six blocks to tie the school record of 170 set from 2002-05 by Leandra Fuller. ... Butler leads the Patriot League in assists at 5.2 per game and is third in rebounding at 9.2.
Connecticut plays No. 11 Florida State on Friday night in the Hall of Fame Classic.
Colgate hosts Gonzaga on Sunday.
AP College Basketball Website: www.collegebasketball.ap.org
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