No. 3 UConn 88, No. 21 DePaul 44
Geno Auriemma saw his team execute to perfection long before Connecticut tipped off against DePaul. Nothing changed once the game started.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis tied a season high with 25 points and the No. 3 Huskies breezed to their fifth straight win, beating No. 21 DePaul 88-44 on Saturday night.
The Huskies (17-2, 6-1 Big East) had won their previous four by an average of 44.5 points, and this one never was in doubt, either. They jumped out to a big lead in the opening minutes and snapped DePaul's 28-game home winning streak.
''They showed up at the shootaround today, and they were really sharp and were really into it,'' Auriemma said.
Mosqueda-Lewis set the tone, scoring 18 points as the Huskies built a 53-23 halftime lead. The freshman hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range and grabbed seven rebounds.
Tiffany Hayes scored in double digits for the eighth straight game, finishing with 14 points.
The Huskies outshot the Blue Demons (15-5, 3-3) 54.7 percent to 27.8 percent overall. They were 9 for 19 from long range, compared to 8 of 26 for the Blue Demons, and outrebounded DePaul 46-22. They also forced DePaul into 23 turnovers, resulting in 33 points.
''We work so hard at practice on keeping our hands in the passing lanes, tipping passes, and someone else getting a steal and just going down and scoring,'' said Bria Hartley, who had six of the Huskies' 18 steals.
DePaul got 18 points from Brittany Hrynko, but she also committed nine turnovers. Anna Martin, who came in averaging a team-high 19.2 points, missed all six shots and did not score, with the Huskies' Kelly Faris doing all she could to make her miserable.
The result was its first home loss since a rout by Connecticut on Feb. 10, 2010.
''I've said all along here over the last couple of weeks that there are four teams that have a chance to win the national championship, and that's Baylor, Notre Dame, UConn and Stanford,'' DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.
The Blue Demons? They're on the next tier. And on Saturday, they weren't in Connecticut's league.
The rout came a day after the announcement that Bruno will serve as a U.S. Olympic assistant to Auriemma, along with Washington Mystics assistant Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors. All four posed for a photo before the opening tip.
Once the game started, Connecticut wasted no time taking control.
Coming off lopsided wins over No. 24 North Carolina and Cincinnati, the Huskies scored the game's first 11 points while building a 16-2 lead and sending DePaul to its third loss in four games. The Blue Demons were within 28-16 after a jumper by Jasmine Penny with 5:30 left in the half, but things quickly got out of hand after that.
Connecticut reeled off 13 straight, with Mosqueda-Lewis making a 3 and two free throws to cap the run. The Huskies led by as much as 33 in the closing seconds of the half.
Whether they were shooting from inside or long range, the Huskies simply weren't missing.
They outscored DePaul 18-6 in the paint and 18-1 off turnovers while hitting 16 of 30 shots, including 6 of 11 from downtown, in the half. Most important, they contained Martin, who's been playing a bigger role on offense since star Keisha Hampton had season-ending surgery on her right knee.
''That's not the same DePaul team that started the season,'' Auriemma said. ''So you kind of put yourself in their shoes. Offense is hard to come by since Keisha got hurt. ... Kelly is tough enough to play against when you've got two or three options, but when you're pretty much the single most important option, it's difficult.''
About the only downer for Connecticut was guard Caroline Doty leaving after playing just 2 minutes because her troublesome left knee swelled up. She's torn the anterior-cruciate ligament three times, so it probably wasn't too surprising that it acted up with the Huskies playing their fourth game in eight days. Auriemma wasn't concerned, saying, ''There's no alarm at all.''