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Dolson nearly perfect as No. 1 UConn women win opener

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 10. 2013 4:00AM
Fred Beckham/ AP Photo
UConn guard Bria Hartley, right, drives to the basket past Hartford's La'Trice Hall during the first half of Saturday's season opener in Hartford. The No. 1 Huskies rolled to an 89-34 victory.

Hartford - Stefanie Dolson missed a shot Saturday. Yes. One shot. This was news. Because she made her first seven, with a pair of 3-pointers among them.

Pay attention, WNBA coaches. Her skills for a player her size are noteworthy, even Jack Sikma-like. And while Dolson's day at the professional draft isn't for several months, she began her 2013-14 season at the XL Center almost flawlessly, illustrating her continued improvement in center-like and un-center-like endeavors.

Dolson scored 16 points in No. 1 UConn's 89-34 waltz over Hartford, a prelude to Monday night's biggie with No. 3 Stanford at Gampel Pavilion.

"I don't know what you would call (position-wise) Elizabeth Williams at Duke, but she certainly hasn't been better in her career than Stefanie has," Hartford coach Jennifer Rizzotti said, responding to a question as to whether Dolson has emerged as the nation's top center.

"I'm trying to think of (another) back to the basket kind of center you'd even put in the conversation," Rizzotti said.

Dolson also had three assists, a number not lost on Rizzotti.

"Look how much time the ball is in Stefanie Dolson's hands," Rizzotti said. "She was second on the team in assists last year because they want the ball in her hands."

And when the ball leaves her hands, it's either on target to a teammate or in the basket from various points on the floor.

"It's something that's been kind of in the works from last year to now," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "She's been more and more comfortable every day shooting the ball. It doesn't surprise me at all 1) that she shoots it; or 2) that it goes in. It's something she's spent a lot of time on."

Dolson's skills shared the stage Saturday with sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson, who finished with a career-high 17 points. She also had five assists and Auriemma's favorite stat: no turnovers.

"Given that she just started practicing toward the middle of the week I thought she looked really good," Auriemma said. "I liked the fact that she made pretty good decisions with the ball and didn't make a lot of mental errors. For a young guard, that's a big key going forward.

"Becoming mentally better and more mature making decisions is a big step going into this week," he said. "Monday (Stanford), Friday (at No. 8 Maryland) and Sunday (at No. 13 Penn State) aren't going to be easy."

Breanna Stewart had 14 points for the Huskies and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 12.

UConn shot 60 percent from the field.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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