STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Charde Houston and the rest of the Connecticut freshmen did their part to keep the Huskies' postseason winning tradition rolling.
Houston, Mel Thomas and Ketia Swanier made their NCAA debut Sunday night with a combined 25 points, 11 assists and five steals in a 95-47 rout over Dartmouth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.Playing beneath the five national title banners hanging in Gampel Pavilion, the rookies made it clear early they would like one of their own."We're part of this team and we're responsible for carrying on a legacy," Houston said. "A lot of teams don't get that much from every single one of their freshmen and I feel like that's to our advantage."All three entered the game after the first media timeout and over the next five minutes stretched a 10-5 lead into an 18-point edge. Houston had six points, three boards and a steal in that stretch. Thomas hit consecutive 3s and Swanier, a speedy point guard, ran the high-powered Huskies offense like a veteran.The rookies passed their first NCAA test with ease and ran the Huskies' NCAA winning streak to 19 games."Playing Dartmouth was a good opener. They run their stuff, and they are very disciplined," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "So that helped the young guys stay within certain parameters. They've been getting better every day in practice."The Huskies (24-7) will play sixth-seeded Florida State in the second round Tuesday night. Florida State beat Richmond 87-54.Of course the starters, who helped hang the last three championship banners, did their part, too. Ann Strother made 5-of-6 shots for 13 points and Jessica Moore finished with 11 points. Moore and Barbara Turner anchored a strong post game for the third-seeded Huskies, each grabbing eight rebounds."We've been there and done that before, gone to the Final Four and played in the national championship," Turner said. "But it's going to be important for (the freshmen) to establish themselves in the tournament."The Huskies outrebounded Big Green (17-10) 37-29 and outscored Dartmouth 42-14 in the paint. They made things difficult for Elise Morrison, Dartmouth's 6-foot-3 scoring leader. She hit her average of 15 points but had just one field goal the first half."I was actually a little flattered and shocked that UConn would think to double me," Morrison said. "Those two big bodies coming at me every single time, I've never seen that in the Ivy League."Jeannie Cullen had 12 points, the only other Dartmouth player to finish in double figures.Houston, the California high school scoring leader, finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and six rebounds. Thomas added 13 points and Swanier finished with a team-high seven assists.It didn't take long for UConn's depth to wear down the 14th-seeded Ivy League champs, who are now 0-4 in the tournament.By contrast, the Huskies have turned the postseason into their own private victory parade the last three years and have been nearly unstoppable at home. UConn is 26-1 in NCAA Tournaments at Gampel Pavilion and has not lost a first-round game here since 1993.UConn led by as many as 32 in the first half, allowing Auriemma to clear his bench in the period en route to a 51-26 at the break. All 12 UConn players had scored by the final buzzer."It didn't seem like the energy level or the level of play fell at all when we subbed," Strother said. "It's really good to see that we're that deep."