STORRS, Conn. – Freshman Helena Kurt (Spanga, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium) scored nine points and fellow first-year player Jenny Horvatinovic (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion Area) added eight points and six rebounds, but the Monmouth University women’s basketball team fell to nationally-ranked No. 1 Connecticut, 100-46, Saturday evening at Gampel Pavilion in the second day of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. With the loss, the Hawks fall to 0-5, while the Huskies move to 7-0.
“I think we gained a lot of confidence from this game, which probably sounds pretty funny,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “But honestly, we took care of the ball better than we had in some of our other games. With us being able to execute against a team like UConn sometimes, I think we gained so much confidence from that. Moving forward, I think every opponent that we face, we’re going to go in more confident, knowing that if we could do it against UConn, we should be able to do it against some other folks.”
Freshman Sophie Beaudry (Chambly, Quebec/College-Notre Dame de Lourdes) also added six second-half points, while Shira Shecht (Pardessiya, Israel/Hadassim) added five points.
2013 Final Four MVP Breanna Stewart led UConn with 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists and four steals, while Kiah Stokes added a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Moriah Jefferson scored 17 points, while Bria Hartley had 14 points and six assists. Brianna Banks also finished with 12 points. Stefanie Dolson narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
UConn jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the early going on eight-straight Banks points to open the game. The Hawks got on the board at the 17:20 mark when Shecht knocked down a triple. Other first-half highlights for Monmouth included Chevannah Paalvast’s (Auckland, New Zealand/Massey) vicious rejection of Stewart and Sara English (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West [UMass]) scoring on a post move over Dolson. Kurt also scored four-straight Monmouth points after the midway point of the half, while the Swedish point guard also hit a three to cap the first-half scoring for MU for a team-high seven points in the initial stanza.
Stewart led all scorers with 14 first-half points, while also adding four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jefferson added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Hartley added 12 more on 4-of-5. Banks finished the half with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. In addition to Kurt’s seven points, Shecht added five and both Kasey Chambers (Belmar, N.J./St. Rose) and English had four. Horvatinovic also added her first-career field goal, a long baseline jumper, in the first half.
UConn scored the first 21 points of the second half to extend to an 85-24 lead before Horvatinovic fed Beaudry deep in the post to break the momentum. A Danica Dragicevic (Belgrade, Serbia/XV Beogradska Gimnazija) lay-up and two Beaudry free throws made it a 6-0 Hawks run. Monmouth gradually battled back to within 52 on India Dotson’s (Frederick, Md./Frederick) first-career field goal in her first minute of collegiate action with 1:31 to play.
For the game, UConn outshot the Hawks, 58.3 percent (35-60) to 32.2 percent (19-59) from the floor and 55.6 percent (10-18) to 11.1 percent (2-18) from long range. Monmouth took an 85.7 percent (6-7) to 80.0 percent (20-25) edge from the free-throw line. UConn outrebounded the Hawks, 39-29.
The Hawks conclude this weekend’s play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge Sunday when they face Boston University. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at XL Center.