UConn wins 42nd straight, 91-52 over Saint Joe’s
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has struggled this season with injury and illness. But everything felt fine on Tuesday night.
UConn’s 6-foot junior scored 20 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and had 10 assists to lead the Huskies (36-0) to a 91-52 rout of Saint Joseph’s in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
It was the second triple double for UConn this year, the third in program history, and just the 14th in the history of the women’s NCAA tournament.
”I’m fine now,” said Mosqueda-Lewis, who missed 12 games this season with an elbow injury and later a bout with mononucleosis. ”I struggled so much with my confidence. Now, I’m confident and I’m out there playing relaxed.”
She led five players in double figures for the top-ranked Huskies (36-0), who won their 42nd straight game.
Breanna Stewart added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Bria Hartley also chipped in 20 points for the defending national champions, who are trying to win a record ninth NCAA tournament.
Erin Shields and Sarah Fairbanks each had 12 points to lead Saint Joseph’s which finished the year at 23-10. Natasha Cloud had 10 and six assists for the Hawks.
UConn will face 12th-seeded BYU in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday. The Cougars upset Nebraska in the second round, sparing the Huskies a date with the Cornhuskers on their home court.
Mosqueda-Lewis connected on eight of her 14 shots, and was 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Stefanie Dolson added 17 points and six rebounds. She had UConn’s other triple-double this season, scoring 26 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists in a win over Oregon in November.
Dolson scored off the opening tip and UConn never trailed. A pair of 3-pointers from Jefferson and Mosqueda-Lewis made it 8-0 and forced coach Cindy Griffin to use her first timeout less than two minutes into the game.
Fairbanks ended the opening 10-0 UConn run with a layup to get the Hawks on the board.
”When they come off making four 3s to start the game, we’re going to have our hands full,” said Hawks coach Cindy Griffin. ”We were always playing catch up.”
The Huskies hit five of their first six shots from behind the arc. Moriah Jefferson gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 36-16 with an old-fashioned 3-point play on a drive to the basket.
The Huskies led 50-26 at halftime, and Mosqueda-Lewis (13), Dolson (11) and Stewart (11) were already in double figures.
Hartley jointed them less than two minutes into the second half, hitting a 3-pointer that was part of a 10-0 UConn run. Jefferson finished with 11.
The Huskies shot 56 percent from the floor, and held Saint Joe’s to 35 percent.
It was the ninth time this season that UConn has put five players into double figures.
”If someone’s open, we’re going to get them the ball,” Hartley said. ”We’re just trying to do whatever it takes to win and whatever it takes to play our best basketball. The way we share the ball and the way we move the ball, it’s really hard for teams to defend that.”
It was the 12th time Stewart has reached double figures in points and rebounds. She also recorded her 100th block of the season.
UConn, which is in its 26th straight NCAA tournament improved to 22-2 in second-round games. Its last second-round loss came 22 years ago, a 75-47 setback against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The Huskies won the next 20 by an average of 28 points per game.
Saint Joseph’s, which beat Georgia on Sunday, had not won a tournament game since 2000. They have never advanced past the second round of the tournament.
Shields’ four 3-pointers give her 96 for the season, a new single-season record for the school. She passed the old mark of 91, set by Kristen Sullivan in 1996, on Sunday. Cloud’s assists also set a single-season mark, giving her 243.
Saint Joseph’s falls to 0-8 in games against teams ranked at the top of the AP poll, and 33-118 against any nationally ranked opponent.
Dolson and Hartley were playing in their final games at Gampel Pavilion. Dolson also was starting her 148th game as a Husky, tying a school record set by Renee Montgomery.
”At the end of the game, walking off and waving to all the fans that were here was just a special moment,” Dolson said.
Connecticut has not been kind to the Hawks this postseason. The UConn men also ousted Saint Joe’s, 89-81 in overtime, in a second-round game last week in Buffalo.