A day for Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes
STORRS – What was the best part of the day? It was really the only tough decision Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes had to make Saturday afternoon. The only issue that had even a hint of drama.
Okay, there was a basketball game. Well, in the sense of two sides keeping score with referees, television, radio and scent of sausages wafting in the air. Other than that, UConn 87, Memphis 24.
Enough of that. Back to Mosqueda–Lewis and Stokes. UConn’s two seniors on their day, Senior Day, in front of a smidgen below capacity crowd of 10,167. What stood out for them and there was plenty to choose from.
Was it the introduction and walk out with parents to be presented with their framed jerseys in front of an appreciative audience?
Was it for Mosqueda-Lewis becoming just the eighth UConn player to go over the 2,000-point mark, finishing the game with 2,017 points?
Was it for Stokes, registering the assist on Mosqueda-Lewis’ basket that pushed her over the mark?
Was it for Stokes breaking the 300-block mark for her career, joining Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters and Tina Charles as the only Huskies to prevent that many shots from getting to the hoop.
Was it for Mosqueda-Lewis having her number honored on the Wall of Fame with all the greats?
Was it for Mosqueda-Lewis planting a surprise kiss on Geno’s cheek when honored after the game for the 2000th point?
Was it for both winning the American Conference title for the second straight season?
Start with Marion, Iowa’s contribution to the UConn legacy and big-time rejector Stokes who started in place of Kia Nurse on this day. She finished with three blocks to go with nine rebounds and four points.
“The best part for me personally is definitely getting blocks, it is one thing I love to do, “said Stokes. “But I think to share this day with Kaleena is another part. We’ve been here since freshman year we have had our ups and downs with each other and with the team.
“Sometimes coach loved us and sometime coach hated us I think we definitely feel for one another that’s the best part. That we’ve made it through here. We’ve had highs and lows and ups and downs but we stuck with it and stuck with each other and that’s the best part.”
Mosqueda-Lewis took care of business early with 19 first half points (21 for the game), while rendering the three-point line ineffective with a 5-of-8 performance.
“I think just my favorite part of the day was being able to play well today as a team being able to play well in front of my family, “ said Mosqueda-Lewis. “You know that’s what you want, what everybody wants on senior day. I want our team to play well, I want it to be a good game for all of us I want it to be a good game in a great atmosphere and we definitely were today.”
It was all made that much more pleasant and easier because of the non-competitive nature of the game. UConn handled the Tigers, 80-34, in the first meeting between the two teams and this time around it was worse.
How bad was it? Toss these numbers around a bit. UConn ran off 31 straight points in the first half and led, 41-4 with 5:25 to go in the first half. Repeat, 41-4. The Tigers hovered around 11 percent shooting in the half before finishing 4-for-30.
Mosqueda Lewis hit all five of her treys in the first half and had 19 of her 21 points. Not to be outdone, Breanna Stewart also tossed in 19 points against the bewildered Tigers. UConn shot 61 percent in the half.
Freshman Gabby Williams jumped into the spotlight with another standout performance finishing with a double-double, 16 point and 10 rebounds. Moriah Jefferson chipped in with 12.
The Huskies upped their AAC record to 17-0, 28-1 overall in grabbing their second title in their second year in the league. But with the title a foregone conclusion the day turned to Mosqueda-Lewis and Stokes.
For the team with the ultimate team concept, it was about two individuals who have made their respective marks on the nation’s best program. And there was plenty to enjoy.