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Freshman Jefferson directs UConn women's rout

Updated 11:44 pm, Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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  • Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson, left, grabs a rebound from Holy Family's Kelly Brady during the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Photo: Fred Beckham, Associated Press / FR153656 AP
    Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson, left, grabs a rebound from Holy Family's Kelly Brady during the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Photo: Fred Beckham, Associated Press

 

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HARTFORD -- It has been a long time since the UConn women's basketball team has been blessed with a true point guard -- a pass-first, shoot-second playmaker -- on its roster. Assistant coach Shea Ralph said that the last one might have been Rita Williams in the late 1990s.

The arrival of freshman Moriah Jefferson this season ended that streak. And with the season opener only days away, she is poised to play a significant role for the second-ranked Huskies.

Jefferson has continued to improve throughout the preseason, continued to impress the UConn coaching staff and continued to produce. She generated 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals Wednesday to help the Huskies to a 119-50 victory over Division II Holy Family in their exhibition finale before 1,300 diehard fans at the XL Center.

"Right now I'm extremely comfortable," Jefferson said. "It's just going out there and just doing it. It's a difference from watching and learning in practice and then actually doing it in the game. But I have no problems with doing it."

Junior All-American Bria Hartley missed her second straight exhibition game due to a sprained left ankle. Her status for Sunday's season opener against the College of Charleston at Gampel Pavilion (1:30 p.m.; SNY) is uncertain.

Jefferson, who did not commit a turnover in 14 minutes, has drawn the start in Hartley's absence. She averaged 11 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals over UConn's exhibition schedule.

"Moriah's a great point guard," UConn sophomore Brianna Banks said. "And she's comfortable in the point guard position. And she knows what she has to do and she has a great energy level when she's on the court whether she messes up or she doesn't. She knows what her role is and she does it well."

The Huskies, who scored 32 straight points to open an 84-38 lead with 14:55 left in the game, made 18 3-pointers and shot 58.1 percent from the field. Seven players scored in double figures for UConn.

Freshman Breanna Stewart, who did not practice Monday and Tuesday (foot), was in the starting lineup Wednesday and finished with a game-high 21 points and four rebounds. Banks added 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

Stefanie Dolson contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Morgan Tuck had 14 points and four rebounds. And Caroline Doty finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.

"We've got a really good shooting team," Auriemma said. "We've got guys that can make shots from a lot of different spots. I hope I'm right ¦ I don't think scoring points is going to be one of the issues that we're going to have going forward."

Holy Family freshman Kim Legan of Milford finished with three points in nine minutes.

The Huskies actually twice trailed by one in the first half. But with Holy Family leading 20-19 with 10:32 left, UConn finished the half with a 38-19 run.

The Huskies then outscored the Tigers 61-12 in the second half.

"In the first half, I felt like we just took this team and everything for granted," Banks said. "We felt we were just too good to work hard. And Coach let us know that. So in the second half, we had to step it up, and we did."

relliott@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/elliottctpost; http://blog.ctnews.com/elliott/