No. 1 UConn women rout No. 2 Duke, 83-61

Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies always seem to thrive

on the big stage.

Tuesday night was no different as the No. 1 team in the country

turned its latest showdown into another rout, beating second-ranked

Duke 83-61.

”I think these are the reasons we come to Connecticut, to play

in the big games,” said Breanna Stewart, who led the Huskies with

24 points and 11 rebounds. ”We have a huge target on our back and

teams will always give us their best run. That’s what you want as a

competitor.”

The victory over Duke was the Huskies’ fourth over a ranked team

this season. They’ve beaten Stanford, Maryland and Penn State with

relative ease, with each game decided way before the final buzzer.

UConn has always excelled in 1-2 matchups, winning 15 of the 18

games they’ve played in.

What’s scary for the rest of the women’s basketball landscape is

that the first three wins came with the Huskies (11-0) not at full

strength. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis injured her elbow in the victory

over Stanford and missed the next eight games. She showed no rust

against Duke, hitting a career-high seven 3-pointers. Whenever Duke

seemed to make any sort of run, the junior forward would hit a key

3 to end the challenge.

”I don’t think we would have won the game the way we won it

without her,” Auriemma said. ”She showed why she is a special

player.”

This was the seventh straight victory for the Huskies in the

series with Duke. The previous six were decided by an average of

nearly 30 points. Auriemma thought this one might be a little

different. It wasn’t.

”I think I would be less than honest if I said I thought we

could come in here and win by 20,” said Auriemma, who earned his

850th career win. ”Simply because we haven’t played in (12 days).

We weren’t sure what we were going to get from (Mosqueda-Lewis and

Morgan Tuck). And I thought Duke being at home and they’ve got a

bunch of upperclassmen … it would be a little bit

different.”

Chelsea Gray had 13 points and Haley Peters finished with 11 for

Duke (10-1), which had its 24-game winning streak at Cameron

snapped – a run that dated to UConn’s last visit in 2011.

”We didn’t do what we needed to do defensively,” coach Joanne

P. McCallie said. ”We didn’t rebound the way we need to rebound.

And we showed little patience on offense at critical times.”

The Huskies, the only visitors to beat Duke on its home floor

since 2008, now have done it three times since anybody else has

found a way to do it once.

They also spoiled the Blue Devils’ undefeated start with a rout

for the third time in four seasons.

”I know people like to make a big deal about it because it’s

No. 1 and No. 2 and all of that,” McCallie said. ”I think the

bigger deal is the Final Four. That’s the biggest deal and trying

to pursue a national championship at that level and this helps us

in our journey to get better and figure things out.”

Stewart did much of the early damage in her first appearance in

front of the Cameron Crazies – or at least what was left of them,

with the Duke students on winter break.

The Blue Devils, who spent the second half trying to claw their

way back into the game, pulled to 65-52 on Elizabeth Williams’

layup with just under 8 minutes left.

After a timeout, UConn worked the ball around the perimeter to

Mosqueda-Lewis, who swished her fifth 3 to restore the Huskies’

16-point lead and help them pull away for their 17th straight

win.

”That’s something that coach has been telling me since last

year – that I need to shoot every shot like it’s the last shot, and

shoot every shot like it’s an important shot,” Mosqueda-Lewis

said.

The Blue Devils were denied their first win over a No. 1 team

since 2007. Duke can’t afford to dwell on the loss with a tough

week ahead. The Blue Devils host a good Albany squad before

visiting No. 5 Kentucky on Sunday at Rupp Arena.

AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report

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