By JOHN ALTAVILLA, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
7:02 PM PST, November 23, 2012
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands —
After three leisurely days on the island, Geno Auriemma pulled up a little on the recreational reins before UConn played its Paradise Jam opener this week.
The fun and sun was cut back on Thursday so the team would be rested and ready for some run and stun — the real reason it's here this week.
What do you know? Geno Auriemma was right again. The Huskies buried Marist 81-39 on Friday at the University of the Virgin Islands.
The No. 2 Huskies (4-0) have won each of their games by at least 31 points. They end the tourist portion of the schedule Saturday against No. 14 Purdue.
"I think we still have some kinks to work out, but overall we are starting to understand the concepts," Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said.
Freshman Breanna Stewart recorded her first career double-double, scoring 20 points (8 of 12) with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes. Stewart has 72 points in her first four games.
"She should score 20 points every game," Mosqueda-Lewis said, smiling.
Mosqueda-Lewis added 15 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes. Kelly Faris and Moriah Jefferson scored 10 each, and the Huskies were 13 of 29 from three.
UConn's DNA was all over this crime scene in the formative first half. It was not a pretty site for the handful of Marist supporters sitting lock-jawed behind its bench. What could they do? UConn led 42-14.
There were fingerprints: The Red Foxes trailed 8-5 after a three from Emma O'Connor, a junior forward. O'Connor led the Marist (2-3) with 18 points.
UConn then scored 15 of its next 17 points on three-pointers from five different players: Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart, Faris, Brianna Banks and Caroline Doty. That gave UConn a 25-9 lead.
In the meantime, its defense, which drove Wake Forest nuts on Thursday, was playing with equal verve. Consider that O'Connor had scored a field goal with 13:41 to play in the first half which brought Marist within 17-8.
The next field goal the Red Foxes scored was a three by Madeline Blais with 24 seconds to play in the half. UConn had outscored Marist 25-6 during the drought.
In the first half, the Huskies were 8 of 15 from three and shot 16 of 31 from the field. The Red Foxes, champions of the MAAC for seven straight seasons, were 4 of 17 with 15 turnovers. UConn's biggest lead was 40-9 with 2:11 to play.
And that was that.
"We want to hit them in the mouth first and see how they react," Mosqueda-Lewis said.
Marist shot only 11 of 43 from the field (25.6 percent) but did make back some ground early in the second half, scoring 10 of the first 17 points.
UConn eventually expanded the lead into the 40s and there really was nothing Marist coach Brian Giorgis could do but coach and fold his arms across his belly.
Too tall. Too fast. Too much.
"We're not getting anything from you," he said to one of the officials in the second half.
It promises to be a familiar refrain on opposing benches this season.
Along with providing his players a splash of sunshine, Auriemma and his coaches are using this tournament to prepare for whatever rainy days may be ahead.
What's already clear after 160 minutes of action is that Auriemma's umbrella this season may be as magical as the one that carried Mary Poppins over London.
"We have our rotation set, the five who will start and who will be the first two or three off the bench," Auriemma said. "From there, I do want everyone to play, and I do want them all to get some experience.
"But at the same time, this is one of those years that if you get into the game and don't have anything going, then we are not going to play you as much as we needed to do over the last few years. We're not trying to specifically get people minutes, but it's an effort to give everyone an opportunity to show what they have to give us."
The Huskies came into the game with no player averaging more than 28.3 minutes (Mosqueda-Lewis), and that's the way Auriemma likes it. And those minutes likely will continue to spread now that Bria Hartley is back.
"It's exciting to be a part of all the talent we have," Hartley said. "It's great to be on the floor with them, see it happening, be a part of it."
Marist did the best it could with its undersized lineup. The Red Foxes lost to Purdue on Thursday 71-50, falling behind by 20 at the half by missing all 13 of their three-point shots.
Only Heather Buck did not play in the first half. Once again, Mosqueda-Lewis led the way with 17 minutes, followed by Dolson, who played 16.
Stewart shared the first-half scoring lead with Mosqueda-Lewis (10).
"Scoring is not going to be a problem for her," Auriemma said.
Hartley played only 13 minutes and did not score after returning Thursday against Wake Forest with 15 minutes. But she had five first-half assists.
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