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Huskies Hoops Pounds Rookie Braves

The giant step Quinnpiac took into Division I landed the small school upstate and onto the homecourt of the second-ranked team in the nation.

Connecticut had a rude welcome for its newest in-state rival, routing the Braves 102-60 Sunday.

Despite being overmatched, the game had the visitors craving more.

"I don't think you guys realized how big a step this is for us," Braves coach Joe DeSantis said. "There are so many things that have to happen on and off the court. I really hope we get to play this team every year and we get to close the gap every year."

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  • The Huskies never trailed, opening the scoring on a free throw from Khalid El-Amin, who finished with a game-high 28 points.

    The closest Quinnipiac could get was in the first two minutes when Bill Ramano hit a jumper to make it 4-2. The Huskies built to a 46-25 lead at the half on several short scoring bursts.

    The runs caused some concern from UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who called his team's season opener a "choppy kind of performance."

    "I would like to see us play with a lot more energy. Would like to see a spurt of 40 minutes," said Calhoun.

    The victory kept UConn perfect in home openers (12-0) under Calhoun, who got his 521st victory. Quinnipiac finished 4-23 in Division II last season.

    El-Amin, a preseason second team All-American, was two points shy of his career best, a 30-point performance last season against Notre Dame.

    Quinnipiac had few answers for UConn's speed and stifling press and even fewer answer for El-Amin. When he wasn't finding his teammates with nifty passes, the fiery guard slipped through the lane for driving layups. He was 9-of-12 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and 7-of-8 from the foul line.

    The Braves also couldn't contend with preseason All-American Richard Hamilton, who scored 25 points. Midway through the second half, with UConn leading 83-42, Hamilton and El-Amin had combined to outscore the Braves.

    "Me and Khalid had the hot hands, so the guys just started looking for us," Hamilton said. "I wanted to make another pass, but sometimes I was so wide open I had to shoot the ball."

    The Huskies effectively shut down Quinnipiac's inside attack, outrebounding the Braves 57-29. Reserve forward Edmund Saunders had a game-high 11 rebounds and Jake Voskuhl hauled down 10 boards.

    "I was disappointed that we didn't rebound at all defensively," said DeSantis, "but they come at you with big, guy after big guy after big guy."

    Also finishing in double figures for the Huskies were Saunders and Kevin Freeman, each with 12.

    Nate Pondexter led the Braves with 21 points. Andrew McKenzie had 15, including three 3-pointers.

    The victory extended the Huskies' dominance over in-state teams to 42 straight wins. The last UConn loss to an in-state rival was 49-48 to Hartford in 1986.

    Calhoun had words of praise for the scrappy Braves, who attacked UConn's press from the outset.

    "They're a better team today than they were when they came into the building," he said.

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