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Strother leads Huskies with 20 points

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- A couple days in coach Geno Auriemma's doghouse did wonders for Charde Houston.

Benched for the final exhibition game earlier this week, the freshman made the most of her debut with the three-time defending national champs. She had 17 points and four blocked shots in UConn's 107-40 season-opening win over Buffalo on Friday.

"It made me realize that I'm a good player but also with talent comes hard work," Houston said. "I have to be willing to work hard to be here at Connecticut."

She arrived by way of San Diego, where she set the California high school scoring record with 3,837 points, breaking Cheryl Miller's mark of 3,446.

"I know what she can do," Auriemma said. "I just want her to work hard everyday. She worked pretty hard today. You don't score that many points without knowing how to score. I was happy to see her do some of those things."

Houston, like her teammates, played smothering defense on the overmatched Bulls (1-0). The Huskies dominated from the opening tip, and by halftime Auriemma had emptied his bench. By then, the Huskies had a 51-15 lead.

UConn outrebounded the Bulls 43-26 and outscored them 58-10 in the paint.

Junior sharp-shooter Ann Strother scored 20 points to lead the Huskies. She hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range and set a career high for field goals (8-of-11) in just 18 minutes.

"The energy level was great," Strother said. "Everyone was excited and ready to go. We were comfortable and it showed."

UConn shot 64.2 percent and got 33 points from 20 Buffalo turnovers. The Huskies held Buffalo to 22-percent shooting.

"We're so young in the post. UConn welcomed our freshmen tto college basketball," Bulls coach Cheryl Dozier said. "We knew it was a tall task coming in and there are so many great things that stand out about UConn."

Freshman Stephanie Bennett led Buffalo with 10 points.

Most of the night belonged to the Houston and the rest of the UConn rookie class.

Ketia Swanier, a speedy freshman guard out of Georgia, found her teammates all night long and finished with eight assists and no turnovers. She was the only player on Auriemma's 12-player roster who didn't score. With her father, Cornell, among the 10,000 fans in Gampel Pavilion, Swanier said she had no butterflies making her first start for UConn.

"If we go out there and each perform specifically what we have to do and work hard, I think we'll be able to overcome better teams than what we had tonight," Swanier said.

They'll get that chance soon enough. The Huskies take on North Carolina (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) at the Jimmy V. Classic in Raleigh on Sunday.