No. 3 UConn 87, Syracuse 62
Stefanie Dolson has gotten to the point in her UConn career where she expects to be the best post player on the court, no matter who she is facing.
The junior center scored a career-high 25 points Saturday to lead No. 3 Connecticut to an 87-62 win over Syracuse and its star center Kayla Alexander, handing the upstart Orange just their second loss of the season.
Dolson, who hit nine of her 17 shots, also became the 36th player in UConn history to reach 1,000 points for her career.
''When you go out there and you know you have a great post to go against....it's something you take personal,'' Dolson said.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also had 25 points and freshman Breanna Stewart, who grew up in Syracuse, added 20 for the Huskies (16-1, 4-1 Big East).
Carmen Tyson-Thomas had 12 points to lead Syracuse (15-2, 3-1). Freshman Brianna Butler added 11.
Alexander, who was in foul trouble for most of the game, was held to just four points and played just 11 minutes.
''If she's not on the floor we're just an OK team,'' said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman. ''When you have your best player playing 11 minutes and take five shots, it's tough to win that way.''
UConn will host No. 4 Duke on Monday, the eighth ranked team the Huskies have faced this season. The Blue Devils are the last unbeaten team in Division I basketball.
Alexander, who had been averaging almost 20 points a game, was forced to sit after picking up her second personal foul less than 5 minutes into Saturday's fame. With the 6-foot-4 senior on the bench, UConn quickly expanded an 8-4 lead to 14-4. Dolson did much of that damage, eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau with her eighth and ninth points, a layup that gave UConn an 18-7 lead.
Tyson-Thomas kept Syracuse close. She hit two consecutive jumpers to pull the Orange to within three at 24-21.
But she also got into foul trouble. The Orange were within one at 28-27 when Tyson-Thomas picked up her third. She took a seat next to Alexander and UConn took advantage. The Huskies closed the half on a 13-2 run and went into the break up 41-29.
Alexander picked up her third foul less than a minute into the second half and her fourth with just over 11 minutes remaining. She fouled out with 5:33 left and her team down 68-55.
''We made her work really hard on defense,'' said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. ''Once you get a couple fouls it takes your aggressiveness away from you a little bit and I think that's what happened to her.
Alexander still needs 16 points to tie Nicole Michael's school scoring record of 1,787.
Dolson scored the Huskies first six points of the second half as UConn opened up a 48-32 lead. The spurt gave the junior at least 20 points for the 11th time in her college career.
She matched her previous career high of 24 on a jumper that gave the Huskies 58-42 just over 5 minutes into the second half, and topped it with a free throw that gave UConn a 69-55 lead.
''Steph's been playing great for us,'' said Mosqueda's Lewis. ''Her consistency is really something that we needed from at least one person on the team and for her to step up to that role this year has been great for us, to know that we can always count on her.''
Mosqueda-Lewis finished just two points of her career high and tied a career mark by making six of her 13 shot from 3-point range. She also pulled down nine rebounds.
''I thought today, especially in the second half, she wasn't going to wait to get her shot, she was going to actively find her shot,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ''And that's a little sign of maturity too.''
Syracuse had been limiting opponents to 26.6 percent shooting on 3-pointers, tops in the conference, and did well guarding everyone but Mosqueda-Lewis from long-range. The rest of the Huskies were just 2 of 11 from behind the arc.
But UConn also outrebounded Syracuse 48-34.
Stewart, who starred at Cicero-North High School in Syracuse, returned for the Huskies a little over a week after rolling her ankle in practice, an injury that forced the freshman to miss two games. Her traditional three-point play with 3:29 left gave UConn a 79-59 lead and put the game well out of reach.
''I just want to go out and play well anyway and because it's Syracuse, it just adds on to it, because just growing up watching them, and I know Coach Q and plus I had some family come here tonight, so I just wanted to go out and play well for all those reasons.''
Syracuse was picked to finish seventh in the conference, but put up a 12-1 record in nonconference play, losing to Temple, 74-67 in early December, a game in which the Orange blew a 39-25 halftime lead.
UConn has now won 22 straight games against Syracuse. The Huskies last loss to the Orange came in January, 1996.