STORRS, Conn. – Stefanie Dolson scored all 12 of her points in the first half to lead a balanced Connecticut offense, and the top-seeded Huskies routed Hartford 75-39 on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Maya Moore, Bria Hartley and Tiffany Hayes added 12 points each for the Huskies (33-1), who started their journey toward a third consecutive national championship. The victory was UConn's 21st straight and 82nd in a row at home, where the Huskies are hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament and giving their local fans one more weekend to see them.
Alex Hall scored 10 points to lead Hartford (17-16), which was making its sixth trip to the NCAA tournament.
It didn't take very long for UConn to take control of the game, as Dolson, a 6-foot-5 freshman center, had her way with the smaller Hawks. Their tallest player was 6-1 and it showed in the rebounding numbers, where the Huskies had a 47-23 advantage.
The Huskies will face eighth-seeded Kansas State or No. 9 Purdue on Tuesday night.
Connecticut hadn't played since winning the Big East tournament title March 8 over Notre Dame, but they showed little rust with the 12-day layoff, hitting four of their first five shots to take a 10-5 lead.
UConn was up 16-9 before turning up its stellar defense. The Huskies scored the next 12 points, sparked by senior Lorin Dixon, who had two steals and a three-point play during the spurt. Tiffany Hayes' layup with 7:08 left in the half capped the burst and made it 28-9.
Back-to-back baskets by Hall cut Hartford's deficit to 30-14, but UConn scored 10 of the final 13 points of the half, including two foul-line jumpers by Dolson, as the lead reached 23.
The Huskies extended their spurt with 10 of the first 12 points after the break.
UConn got an added boost with the return of backup center Heather Buck. She had been sidelined for the final few weeks of the regular season with a stress reaction in her left foot.
She entered the game with 7:23 left in the game and UConn up by 64-27. The junior got a quick putback for her only points.
The Huskies had been only suiting up eight players and their lack of depth was seen as a potential road block to an eighth national championship. It didn't cause any problems as UConn ran through the Big East tournament, winning three games in three days.
Hartford, which is coached by former UConn great Jen Rizzotti, started out the season 1-9 before hitting its stride and winning the America East Conference tournament as the No. 4 seed.
Rizzotti was the starting point guard for Geno Auriemma on the Huskies' first national championship team in 1995. She received a warm ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions, which included many Hartford fans who made the 30-minute trek from the Connecticut capitol.
For the first time in seven years, the Hawks didn't play the Huskies in the regular season. Rizzotti said on Saturday that she didn't see the series resuming next year.
The Hawks are winless in 12 tries against UConn.