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UConn men’s basketball dispatches Stonehill, 85-54

It was not a pleasant start to the Skyhawks’ Division I tenure.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s basketball took victory on opening night, handing the Stonehill Skyhawks an 85-54 loss in the first game of their Division I tenure at the XL Center on Monday night.

Adama Sanogo led the way offensively with 19 points, adding six rebounds. He was one of four players with at least five boards as the Huskies dominated a smaller Stonehill team on the boards, with a 42-24 rebound advantage, while the home side’s length led to 24 Skyhawk turnovers.

Most importantly, Jordan Hawkins exited with 8:39 remaining in the first half after taking a hard fall and hitting his head. He did not return to the game and his status is unclear.

There isn’t a whole ton to glean from a borderline top-25 team playing the No. 350 school in the KenPom rankings that is making its Division I debut. UConn was longer, more athletic and more skilled, showing that in the first half despite a tough shooting performance through much of the early part of the game.

The Huskies had a 23-13 rebounding advantage and held the Skyhawks to just six field goals in the first half. Donovan Clingan had a trio of blocks in the initial 20 minutes, while Naheim Alleyne had three of his team’s seven steals. The defensive advantage helped UConn weather a tough offensive storm through the middle of the period.

Over a six-and-a-half minute stretch, the Huskies missed nine straight field goals, but Stonehill was 2-10 in that same span. Clingan had five points and four rebounds, while Sanogo added 10 points and three boards, demonstrating how UConn’s size advantage proved important.

Armed with a 19-point lead after 20 minutes, the Huskies played free and easy. By the under-16 media timeout, UConn had stretched it out to 27 points as the inside continued to be open, with layups by Hassan Diarra and Sanogo, as well as a big dunk by Samson Johnson, who missed most of the first half after picking up a pair of early fouls.

While Stonehill had a quick 6-0 run on a pair of 3-pointers to bring it back to 21, the Huskies’ lead never got below 20 and the home side cruised to an easy win.

UConn (1-0) returns to action on Friday against Boston University. Tip-off at Gampel Pavilion is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on FS2.