NEW ORLEANS (AP) With the regular season winding down, UConn maintained its mastery of its opponents in the American Athletic Conference.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 21 points and the No. 1 Huskies beat Tulane 94-47 on Monday night, doubling the total of their sixth consecutive American Athletic Conference opponent and their ninth in the past 10 games.
A pumped-up crowd of 1,900 had no effect on UConn’s dominating performance in its first trip to tiny Devlin Fieldhouse.
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”There’s kind of a pattern to the games,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”There’s going to be a point in the games where we’re going to get out in transition and make a couple of 3s. I don’t know exactly when, but it kind of happens every game.”
The Huskies (27-1, 16-0 American) used a 3-pointer by Morgan Tuck right before the half to take a 45-25 lead into the break. Tuck then hit two more 3s to make the score 51-25 at the start of the second half, and UConn led by at least 24 the rest of the way.
Tuck finished with 16 points and Breanna Stewart added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies, who won their 26th straight and clinched at least a share of the American Conference regular-season championship. Moriah Jefferson added 15 points, eight steals and five assists.
”She (Jefferson) is playing with a lot of confidence and making things happen at both ends of the floor,” Auriemma said. ”She’s got control of the team right now. She knows exactly who’s where, when and what we need to do.”
Courtnie Latham scored 12 points for Tulane (20-8 11-6), which lost 87-39 in Storrs, Connecticut, on Valentine’s Day. No one else reached double figures in points for the Green Wave.
UConn hit 56.1 percent of its shots and was 28 for 38 inside the 3-point line. The Huskies also forced 23 turnovers.
UConn went on a 12-3 run to go ahead 22-9 early, and Tulane never cut its deficit to single digits. Mosqueda-Lewis hit a 3-pointer and Jefferson connected on a jumper to extend the advantage to 30-12 with 9:27 left.
Still, Tulane kept it closer for the first 20 minutes than most of UConn’s conference opponents. The Huskies had doubled up all but two American teams by halftime, including a 42-12 lead in Storrs, Conn., but the Green Wave hit four of their first seven 3-point attempts while UConn missed its first five.
Tulane pulled within 42-25 on Kolby Morgan’s layup with 10 seconds left in the half.
”We were really pumped,” Latham said. ”We were just hitting shots, but we couldn’t sustain it. We know we just have to move on.”
Tuck responded with her first 3-pointer, and the Huskies continued to stretch their lead in the second half when they got hot from 3-point range.
After making 4 of 15 3-pointers in the first half, UConn made 7 of 13 in the second half. Mosqueda-Lewis went 3 for 3.
”It’s not easy when a team plays as much zone as Tulane did to get the ball inside and get to the free throw line,” Auriemma said. ”I loved the way we started the second half. Like I said, it’s been a pattern.”
Morgan had nine points and 11 rebounds for Tulane, but the Green Wave struggled against UConn’s aggressive defense, committing six turnovers in the first six minutes and finishing with 23 miscues.
”Kolby kept us in there with her rebounding in the first half,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. ”These are young players going out and playing against the No. 1 team in the country and they really didn’t look intimidated.”
UConn: The Huskies’ closest game in the American was a 92-58 victory against Temple. They almost hit their average margin of victory in the league against Tulane (49.8). … UConn can clinch the American Conference title outright by beating Memphis at home this Saturday. The Huskies beat the Tigers 80-34 in Memphis.
Tulane: The Green Wave, who did not attempt a free throw in the first meeting, attempted four this time, drawing UConn’s first foul with 6:29 left in the first half. Tulane gave up 19 offensive rebounds at UConn, but only nine in the rematch.