Huskies dominate South Carolina, 87-62.
TORRINGTON: While Mother Nature may have made things difficult for the fans of the University of Connecticut to get to the game against number one South Carolina, once they got there, they had themselves some kind of party.
The now, not number one Gamecocks got themselves the Gampel Pavilion treatment and a heavy dose of a team that had been waiting for this moment since they lost to Stanford in the second game of the season.
UConn rode the hot three-point shooting of the best three-point shooter in school history to a relatively easy 87-62 win over a South Carolina team that had more points scored on them as they have all season in the process.
How dominant was the Huskies performance after trailing 18-15 in the first half?
A 21-2 run was fueled by outstanding play from Moriah Jefferson (16 points, six assists) and incredible three point shooting effort by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23 points, 5 of 6 from three-point land).
Off a game in which she played just five minutes in their last outing, Breana Stewart enjoyed the chip that had landed on her shoulder while making the Gamecocks wish it had never been put there.
Stewart finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocks or, came through in a big game like she has time and time again in her two years at UConn.
A packed house at Gampel, thanks to the generosity of in the area of 600 fans who could not make the trip because of the tough weather, was jamming and as good a sixth man as there is in the country.
The much talked about interior size of the visitors never factored into this one, aside from a win in the rebounding column (37-34) but it was the UConn transition offense that got the best of the team that had held the top spot in the country the entire season.
South Carolina came in not allowing more than 63 points in any game but simply could not stop the Huskies on offense and a defense that stymied the Gamecocks during that first half run made sure they never had a real chance.
Sure, South Carolina closed the gap to 10 points off a 6-0 run to start the second half but the home team responded with a run of their own that kept them from making a game out of it in the second.
Jefferson led the defensive effort by shutting down Tiffany Mitchell after the standout guard had started hot to open the game.
Mitchell would finish tied for the team lead in scoring with 17 points but when they Huskies made their run in the first half, it was Jefferson who had the clamps on Mitchell, not allowing her to get a sniff of the ball.
It was as dominant a performance as we have seen all year against a very skilled team. Mind you, these two teams may just meet again down the road when it counts far more than it did on a snowy February Monday night in Storrs.
NOTES: For the Huskies, four of their starters accounted for 78 points. They may be the toughest four players for anyone in the nation to keep up with.
Jefferson is a nightmare for teams because of her speed and ability to get out on transition and that special brand of defense she plays.
KML is what she is. A stellar outside shooter who also plays tough defense while Tuck has become a force to be reckoned with.
And then there is the one they call Stewie. The rest of the country just got the worse possible news if the junior forward is now looking to prove a point to her coaches that she can play at this level all the time. Yikes.