HOUSTON -- Geno Auriemma’s 1,000th game at Connecticut was like most of the first 999.
Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson scored 24 points apiece and the top-ranked Huskies beat Houston 92-41 on Saturday for their 34th straight win.
Dolson also had nine rebounds and Breanna Stewart added 16 points, seven boards and five assists as UConn (28-0, 15-0 American Athletic Conference) used a big run to end the first half and cruised to the easy win.
"Whatever number comes next is not going to be 1,000," Auriemma said after improving to 867-133 with the Huskies. "I’m going to take it one game at a time and see what happens. Take it from there."
Hartley passed Tiffany Hayes for 10th place on UConn’s career scoring list with a layup with 7:38 remaining. Hartley now has
1,802 points, putting her 63 behind Svetlana Abrosimova for ninth.
"I don’t really pay attention to that," Hartley said. "When I am done with my UConn career, I will kind of say ‘That is really cool.’ Until then, I am focused on getting better and getting ready for March."
The Huskies shot 64 percent from the field, including 80 percent in the second half.
Connecticut was slow out of the gate, but played considerably better in the second half, hitting 14 straight from inside the arc to start the second half.
Auriemma said the Huskies have to come ready to play no matter the competition.
"The first 20 minutes were pointless," Auriemma said. "It’s just another reminder of no matter how many plays you make or how many games you play that look great, there always going to be days where we can’t get into any kind of rhythm. We couldn’t connect with each other. There was no flow to the offense. There was very little going on. The second half was way better. It kind of started that way the first minute or two of the second half."
Auriemma added that the Huskies aren’t playing against Houston or Southern Methodist, who the Huskies face Tuesday in Dallas, but they are trying to better prepare themselves for March and another title run.
"Win or lose, yeah, we want to win," Auriemma said. "That isn’t the point. The point isn’t to see how much we can win by. The final score isn’t going to help you win in the NCAA tournament. We are trying to prepare for the NCAA tournament, so we didn’t come down here just to see what the final score is going to be, and sometimes, that’s what kids fall into. You have to be aware of that."
Te’onna Campbell had 15 points, and Jessieka Palmer added 12 points for the Cougars (5-22, 1-15), who have dropped 18 of their last 20 games and four straight.
Houston, which never led, hung with Connecticut for the first 10 1/2 minutes before the Huskies pulled away with a 21-3 run to end the first half.
"They were good; I thought they were good in the second half," Houston interim coach Wade Scott said. "The first half I thought they were good. They are playing short right now with some kids that are injured. I know Breanna Stewart gets three fouls in the first half but they’re good, they’re legit."
Connecticut’s winning streak is the fourth-longest in school history, one behind the Huskies’ 35-game run from Nov. 26, 1994-April 2, 1995.
After the Cougars closed to 19-13 on Campbell’s jumper with 9:32 left in the opening half, Connecticut turned up the defense, scoring the next 11 points before Yasmeen Thompson’s free throw and opened up a 40-16 halftime lead on Moriah Jefferson’s layup with 11 seconds remaining.
"The first half we did not have a great flow on offense," Dolson said. "Defensively, we were letting them get too many rebounds, so the second half we buckled down and ran our offense and communicated on defense. We got a couple steals to start the second half that really set the tone."
Houston did not hit a field goal for 8 minutes until Campbell’s layup with 1:35 left in the half. The Cougars missed 15 of their last 16 shots to end the half and 12 straight before Campbell’s layup.
Dolson had 10 points in the run, and Hartley added six.
"They are a good team, like coach said they’re pretty legit," Palmer said of Connecticut. "It’s not too many things that they don’t do well so playing them is a challenge but I felt like my team did the best they could."
The Huskies’ lead grew to as many as 51 points in the second half.
No. 2 Notre Dame 81,
No. 7 Duke 70
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Kayla McBride got No. 2 Notre Dame going early by hitting her first four shots and stopped seventh-ranked Duke’s rally late by hitting back-to-back baskets.
In between, McBride did a lot of little things right, such as grabbing seven rebounds, handing out four assists and jumping out of the way when Haley Peters, trapped in the corner, tried to get out of trouble by bouncing the ball off of McBride out of bounds, forcing another Duke turnover.
McBride finished with a career-high 31 points to pace Notre Dame to an 81-70 victory Sunday, giving the Fighting Irish the Atlantic Coast Conference title in its inaugural season in the league.
"We definitely enjoyed that," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of beating the defending conference champion Blue Devils.
McBride is a huge reason why the Irish (27-0, 14-0 ACC) are still unbeaten.
"Kayla McBride was outstanding again today," McGraw said. "She’s had a phenomenal year, but 31 points, she was just amazing. She was unstoppable."
McBride was 6-of-9 shooting in the first half and finished 13-of-25 for the game. The Irish (27-0, 14-0 ACC), who never trailed in beating the Blue Devils 88-67 earlier this month, giving the Blue Devils their first ACC loss at home since 2008, opened a 20-2 lead early on Sunday.
The Irish started the game by making 8-of-13 shots while holding Duke to 1-of-10 shooting with eight turnovers and eventually extended the lead 46-26 on a jumper by McBride with 32 seconds left in the first half.
McBride said the Irish had a lot of energy at the start.
"We were hitting shots. We were getting stops on defense. We were getting in transition," she said. "I think we were just having fun."
Elizabeth Williams, who led Duke with 20, said Duke made too many mistakes at the start.
"We took some bad shots, some quick shots, which fueled their transition," she said. "We just need to learn to be more patient early."
The Blue Devils scored six points in the final 7 seconds of the first half and eventually cut the lead to seven points on a driving layup by Alexis Jones with 11:50 left, but Jones injured her left knee and didn’t return. Coach Joanne P. McCallie said the initial diagnosis is a sprained knee, but said more tests are needed.
She said losing Jones hurt.
"Notre Dame is a great team. You don’t know what would have happened from there. But I guess I wish I could have seen it," McCallie said. "She’s an All-American candidate, a super sophomore and obviously we were a different team when she was gone."
The Blue Devils (24-4, 11-3) cut the lead to seven points twice more, the final time when Kendall McCravey-Cooper hit a jumper to make it 66-59. But McBride answered with back-to-back baskets, one inside, the other a 3-pointer to spark an 8-0 run that put the game away.
McGraw said what makes McBride so impressive is her ability to play every position.
"She’s so versatile, she can do so many things and she’s so incredibly coachable," McGraw said.
Jewell Loyd, who added 21 points Notre Dame, said the Irish expect McBride to hit her shots.
"She’s money. Kayla McBride is money," she said. "Every time she shoots, I think it’s going in. So it’s fun to be right."
Jones finished with 15 and Richa Jackson added 11. Williams and Jackson had six rebounds each.
McGraw was pleased with the way Loyd defended Duke’s leading scorer Tricia Liston, holding her to nine points, less than half her average of 18.4 points a game.
"I was focused on defense and not letting her get any easy touches," Loyd said.