All of the hard work that Stefanie Dolson put in during the offseason has really paid off for her and the UConn Huskies.

UConn center Stefanie Dolson shoots for two of her 13 first-half points against Syracuse at the XL Center in Hartford SaturdayDolson scored a career-high 25 points, including the 1,000th of her career, plus seven rebounds and six assists to help the Huskies past the Syracuse Orange 87-62 in front of 14,786 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT on Saturday afternoon.

UConn improves to 16-1 (4-1 Big East) while the Orange fall to 15-2 (3-1).

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also added 25 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Breanna Stewart returned from an ankle injury to play her hometown team and had 20 points and six rebounds.

Kelly Faris had a nice game with eight points, nine rebounds and three assists. Caroline Doty tied Dolson's team-high of six assists to go along with her two points.

Carmen Tyson-Thomas came off the bench to lead the Orange with 12 points. Brianna Butler had 11 points while both Brittney Sykes and Rachel Coffey added 10 points a piece.

Shakeya Leary led Syracuse with seven rebounds and had seven points. The Orange's leading score Kayla Alexander battled foul trouble all game and finished with just four points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.

The Huskies made sure to find Dolson inside all game long and that helped get Alexander in foul trouble. And without Alexander, the Orange weren't the same team that had gotten off to the 15-1 start.

I've definitely been impressed with the improvement of Dolson. She looks nothing like the Dolson of the past two years. And they're going to need this Dolson to achieve their goal of winning another national championship.

It was also nice to see Stewart return to action. It also looked like she didn't miss a beat after being out for the past week with a sprained ankle.

Speaking of sprained ankles, Bria Hartley injured hers yet again and sat out the final eight minutes of the game. The Huskies are definitely going to need Hartley to be a quick healer with a big test against the only undefeated team in women's basketball on Monday night.

That undefeated team is the Duke Blue Devils who will visit Gampel Pavilion in UConn's annual Martin Luther King Day game. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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Syracuse Orange @ UConn Huskies 1-19-13 box score

Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma.

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photo credit:  cloe poisson – hartford courant (no. 6 in gallery)