HARTFORD, Conn. -- UMBC spent 15 hours traveling on a bus through a major winter storm to get to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
UConn gave the Retrievers a rude welcome.
Renee Montgomery scored 19 points and Charde Houston added 15 to help top-seeded UConn rout Maryland-Baltimore County 82-33 on Sunday night in the Fresno Regional.
The Huskies (30-3), who hadn't played since losing the Big East championship game to Rutgers on March 6, were ahead just 6-5 three minutes into the game, before Houston led them on a 10-3 run.
The Retrievers (16-17) had no answers for her. She had 15 first-half points and hit seven of her first nine shots.
When UMBC decided to collapse on Houston, she kicked the ball outside to Montgomery, or to Tina Charles and Kalana Greene on other side of the post.
"We've been practicing the past few days just running zone offense and passing out of the post, so I was just in the right spots at the right time," Houston said. "I've also been practicing shooting 15-foot jump shots, so its just a matter of me having confidence and knocking those shots in."
Greene finished with 12, and Charles had 10. The easy looks resulted in the Huskies shooting 60 percent from the floor.
"When it looks good, it looks really good," Auriemma said. "At the same time... there is a big disparity in talent between who we had on the floor and who [UMBC coach] Phil [Stern] had on the floor."
UMBC managed to stay close at 29-20, but UConn ended the half with a 12-0 run and scored the first nine points of the second half. They coasted from there to the program's 14th consecutive first-round win.
The Retrievers tried to stay in the game by shooting 3-pointers, but hit just three of their first 17, and 5-of-24 for the game. They shot just 25 percent from the field.
Coach Phil Stern said he would like to have seen his team get a few more backdoor cuts out of their Princeton-style offense.
"We're a good 3-point shooting team. We probably settled a little too much tonight," Stern said. "But, we're not used to playing a team as big and strong and fast as UConn."
Sharri Rohde, UMBC's leading scorer, picked up her third foul 2:22 before intermission. She finished with just seven points. Brittnie Hughes had nine.
UConn will play Wisconsin-Green Bay in the second round on Tuesday. The Phoenix beat New Mexico 59-52 on Sunday, and are riding a 26-game winning streak, the second longest in the nation.
"They are well coached and they've got kids that understand their roles, and they don't get rattled when they get down. You can tell that they're used to winning," Auriemma said. "But so are we."
The Retrievers had a less impressive resume. They were the seventh seed in the America East Conference tournament, and had to beat the top three seeds in that conference, including a University of Hartford team coached by former UConn star Jen Rizzotti. This was their first trip to an NCAA Tournament since becoming a Division I program in 1986.
The trip to Hartford seemed almost as long, a 15-hour bus ride in a snowstorm Friday, including five hours at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike after their bus broke down.
But Rohde said none of that will matter five years from now.
"Playing in the Civic Center in front of that huge crowd, and playing against on of the best teams in the nation, I'll just look back and just think about all that and just think what a great experience it was and how so many people don't have that opportunity," she said. "I'll look back and smile."
Connecticut averaged 14,215 fans at the seven regular-season home games played at the Civic Center. Just 6,824 showed up for Sunday's 9:30 p.m. start.
The victory gives UConn its 12th 30-win season. The Huskies went undefeated in the Big East to win the regular-season title, and had won 15 consecutive games before the 55-47 loss to Rutgers in the conference tournament.
UConn has won five national championships and is making its 19th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. But there are no seniors on the team and the Huskies' four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen have never been to a Final Four. UConn won the last of its five national titles in 2004.
If the Huskies win two more games this season, they could face a regional final matchup with second-seeded Stanford, which would have about a three-hour drive to Fresno.
UMBC's went 3-7 in its final 10 games of the regular season before making its conference tournament run.