UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) UConn added to its long list of blowouts in the American Athletic Conference, jumping out 40-point lead in the first half and cruising to a 50-point win over East Carolina in the league semifinals.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points, and Moriah Jefferson added 20 in Sunday’s 106-56 rout of the Pirates.
UConn’s margin of victory over AAC opponents during the regular season was 48.7 points, and they beat Cincinnati by 59 in the quarterfinals. The Huskies have never lost an AAC regular-season or tournament game and will be playing for their second consecutive league championship on Monday.
”If we weren’t in this league, everybody would say, `Wow that’s a pretty competitive conference,” said head coach Geno Auriemma. ”But, putting us in there changes everything.”
Mosqueda-Lewis hit eight of her 10 shots, including five from 3-point range, moving her within 12 of the NCAA career record of 392.
Moriah Jefferson added 20 points and six assists and five steals. Breanna Stewart had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Morgan Tuck chipped in with 15 points and Gabby Williams had 12.
I’Tiana Taylor had 17 points and Jada Payne added 15 to lead East Carolina, which is 21-10.
UConn led 62-22 at the half, its biggest scoring output for a half this season and just six shy of the school record.
”I don’t know if that was the best half we’ve had,” said Mosqueda-Lewis. ”But if was definitely one of the most aggressive halves.”
Kiah Stokes, the AAC defensive player of the year, had four blocks giving her a school-record 132 for the season, one more than Rebecca Lobo, who set the old mark of 131 back in 1993-94.
The Huskies (31-1) put the game away early. Their first seven baskets were layups and they used an 18-0 run to build a 43-9 lead.
”They were being really aggressive,” said Jefferson. ”Anytime somebody is playing on you that hard, you really just want to drive and go by them.”
UConn shot a season-best 66 percent from the field and outscored East Carolina 56 to 22 in the paint. The Huskies had 21 assists on 39 baskets.
East Carolina coach Heather Macy thought her team played much better in the second half, when they were only outscored 44-34.
”The kids responded and they understood that it was going to be about getting better during that 20 minutes, versus just run up and down and playing pick-up, and that’s what I felt we did in that first half, played a lot of pick-up.”
UConn won the two regular-season meetings with the Pirates by 51 and 55 points.
The Huskies have now won 78 straight games against unranked opponents, and 255 of their last 266 games against teams outside the Top 25.
The Pirates had won nine of their last 10 games, including a 77-71 win over Temple in the tournament quarterfinals.
Monday’s title game will mark UConn’s 11th straight trip to a conference final. The Huskies will be playing for their 20th conference tournament title.
UConn: The Huskies won last year’s conference championship game by 20 points over Louisville. No other AAC team has ever come within 20 points of the Huskies since the inception of the conference. … Stewart’s three assists gives her 100 on the season, the third Husky (Jefferson and Nurse) to reach the century mark.
East Carolina: The loss keeps East Carolina one-win shy of recording its third consecutive 22-win season. The Pirates went 22-10 last season and 22-9 in 2013-14.
CROSSING A CENTURY: This was the third time this season UConn has scored 100 points. The Huskies beat UC Davis 102-43 in the season opener, and topped UCF 100-45 in January.
UConn plays for its second consecutive America tournament championship on Monday night against South Florida, which beat Tulane 78-69 in the other semifinal.