Jen Rizzotti likes to challenge her Hartford Hawks team every year and that includes an annual matchup with the No. 1 UConn Huskies. One of these years, she will beat her former coach Geno Auriemma but that day will have to wait at least for another year.

Renee Montgomery outscored the Hawks in the first half as the Huskies rolled to a 78-41 win in front of an announced crowd of 12, 803 at the XL Center on a snowy New Year’s Eve afternoon in Hartford, CT.

The win for the Huskies improves their record to 12-0 for the 10th time in 13 seasons while the Hawks drop to 5-7.

UConn's Tina Charles shoots two of her 12 first-half points against the University of Hartford's Diana Delva and Amanda Weaver during game action at the XL Center. - Hartford Courant PhotoMontgomery finished with 20 first half points (the Hawks had 16 in the first half) and 4 assists to lead the Huskies. She didn’t play much in the second half as she left the game with an injury to her mouth. She was fine and back on the bench but didn’t come back into the game.

Tina Charles had another good game as she had 17 points and 9 rebounds while Maya Moore had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Caroline Doty chipped in with 9 points and 3 assists.

The Hawks were paced Illicia Mathis’ 10 points. Erica Beverly added 9 points and 4 rebounds while Diana Delva had 6 points and 5 rebounds.

UConn and Hartford both started out of the gates slowly as the two teams combined to go 0-for 7 in the first 90 seconds of the game.  Montgomery finally got the Huskies on the board with a jumper at the 18:21 mark and Beverly tied the game up 27 seconds later. Runs of 12-0 and a 25-5  by the Huskies put the game out reach early on despite UConn making just 3 of it’s first 11 shots as Hartford was ice cold from the floor.

UConn gradually pulled away due to the play of Montgomery and Charles who combined for 32 of UConn’s 49 points in the first half as they enjoyed a 49-16 lead at the break.

Next up for the Huskies is a game on Saturday afternoon against a very young LSU Tigers team at the XL Center. Tip-off is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised nationally on CBS with Don Criqui doing the play-by-play and former Husky All-American Rebecca Lobo handling the color duties.

Notes and musings:

Hartford Hawks @ UConn Huskies 12.31.08 boxscore

The starters were the usual 5 suspects of Renee Montgomery, Caroline Doty, Kalana Greene, Maya Moore and Tina Charles.

Jessica McCormack was not on the UConn bench today because Geno Auriemma allowed her to travel home to New Zealand. He did this since she’s not allowed to travel with the team. She will be back in time for the start of the second semester.

UConn won the five games during the recent roadtrip by an average of 31.6 points.

Since 1974, UConn has played a total of 70 games vs. opponents from the state of Connecticut and own a mark of 48-22 (.686) in those games entering Wednesday’s meeting with Hartford. The Huskies have played 23 games vs. in-state foes since Geno Auriemma took over in 1985-86 and boast an unblemished mark of 23-0 in those contests.

UConn enters Wednesday’s game vs. Hartford having won its first 11 games of the season by an average of 36.1 points – which ranks as the largest average margin of victory among NCAA national leaders.

Maya Moore has now scored in double figures in 48 of her 50 games in a UConn uniform.

Heather Buck is just the second non-medical red shirt in Geno Auriemma’s 24 years at the helm of the Huskies.

Renee Montgomery  moved past Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti into 12th place on UConn’s all-time scoring list with 1,545 points.

UConn shot 62.2% (23-of-37) in the first half and finished at 55.7% (34-of-61).  The Hawks shot 19.4% (6-of-31) in the first half and finished at 26.8% (15-of-56).

The Huskies had 23 assists on their 34 made baskets in the game.

The Hawks had more free throw attempts (14) than the Huskies (10). The Hawks were 9-of-14 (64.3%) while the Huskies were 7-of-10 (70.0%).

UConn dominated the boards holding a 45-29 advantage.

The Huskies turned 12 Hawks turnovers into 15 points while the Hawks turned 11 UConn turnovers into 9 points.

UConn outscored Hartford 40-20 in the paint and 10-2 on the fastbreak.