HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn coach Dan Hurley said his team needs games like the one the Huskies played Saturday to prepare for the tougher competition that is coming.
Tristen Newton scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures as No. 6 Connecticut routed Stonehill 107-67 in Hartford.
Freshman Stephon Castle had 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the defending national champions, who have won 19 consecutive nonconference games, which includes last season’s run through the NCAA Tournament.
Donovan Clingan added 16 points in 17 minutes; Alex Karaban scored 15 points; and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer added 12 for the Huskies (2-0).
“These games are important,” Hurley said of Saturday’s rout. “We need to be able to play these young guys, these freshmen, let them build some confidence before we start playing these monster games.”
Clingan, on a minutes restriction while recovering from a foot injury in the preseason, opened the scoring with a layup. He had six points in UConn’s opening 12-0 run, which forced the Skyhawks into a zone.
It didn’t help.
Newton hit his first three 3-point attempts and had 14 points by halftime. UConn led 52-30 at the break.
The Huskies opened the second half with a 26-4 run in just over seven minutes and cruised from there.
UConn outscored Stonehill 56-26 in the paint and outrebounded the Skyhawks 42-26.
Jackson Benigni, who grew up in Connecticut and still considers himself a big UConn fan, had 22 points to lead Stonehill (1-2), which is in its second year of Division I basketball.
“I wish the outcome was better, but it was just a dream come true for me,” he said.
Castle said he and fellow “fab five” freshmen Solomon Ball (seven points), Jayden Ross (five points), Jaylin Stewart (two points three assists) and Youssouf Singare (two rebounds) continue to gain confidence.
“Just getting that first game out of the way, getting the first-game jitters out of the way and just playing basketball, playing our own game, I feel that’s what’s going to kind of like push us going into the rest of the season,” he said,
PLAY OF THE GAME
UConn’s Samson Johnson chased down Pano Pavlidis on the fast break in the first half and blocked his layup attempt. He then sprinted down the court, where Hassan Diarra found him for a dunk. The 6-foot-10 junior’s first eight field goals this season were dunks, before he hit a layup on an inbound play in the second half.
Stonehill: The Skyhawks were coming off a 57-44 victory over Army on Thursday night. They play No. 16 Kentucky next week. The program, still in its transition from Division II, won’t be eligible for the NEC Tournament until next season and can’t play in the NCAA Tournament 2026-2027.
UConn: The Huskies nonconference schedule gets much tougher with games against Indiana and either Louisville or No. 18 Texas later this month. They play in December at No. 1 Kansas and against No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 19 North Carolina.
Stonehill: Travels to Philadelphia to take on Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday night.
UConn: The Huskies host Mississippi Valley State in Hartford on Tuesday.
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