Jefferson, Huskies pummel SMU
HARTFORD – Apparently Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has a few more talents than just those that have been on display for the last three plus years. Like motivational speaking. Moriah Jefferson needed something to get her going and that something was Mosqueda- Lewis.
Feeding off a little poke from her smooth-shooting teammate, Jefferson entertained a Saturday afternoon matinee crowd at the XL Center with a career high 24-point performance that included 8-for-12 shooting, a quartet of 3-pointers and five steals.
Entertaining enough to keep the crowd of 9,992 awake in an otherwise snoozey affair as UConn drubbed SMU, 96-45, in the AAC opener for both teams.
““I think the defense started with Kaleena because before the game she told me she was beating me in steals (18-17) so I was like there was no way you are going to keep beating me in steals,” laughed Jefferson. “So we both came out trying to challenge each other who was going to get the most steals today. After that the offense came naturally.”
Mosqueda-Lewis, who also had her own story line going with 19 points and a trio of 3-pointers that tied her Maya Moore for second on UConn’s all-time 3-point list with 311, also knows the benefits of Jefferson at peak efficiency.
“It makes us that much more unguardable,” said Mosqueda-Lewis. “With all the weapons that we have we want to make sure we can add that and have the Moriah we know she can be every single game. So when she’s aggressive the way she was tonight I don’t think there is a team that can beat us. “
Jefferson had scored a total of 11 points in the last three games but it hadn’t exactly gotten into her head.
“It’s frustrating, any time you don’t play of course it’s going to be,” said Jefferson. “You have to try to think of the positives and think about how good the team is playing and they been having my back. So you come back game after game and try to do a little better than you did the last game.”
UConn coach Geno Auriemma just saw a player who can be a major ingredient when she is on the top of her game.
“Today was a perfect example of all the things (Jefferson) can provide to our team,” said Auriemma. “As much as people want to play off of her and double inside she has to be able to make some outside shots and today she proved she can. I’m sure she was planning on having a lot of these when the season started. Unfortunately it has taken up to today and that’s okay. We’re not even a quarter of the way through the season.”
Auriemma also got into the spotlight with the win. His career record of 888-134 now good enough for the best all-time winning percentage of .86888 to former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore’s .86878 (567-87).
Oh yeah, there was a game played, too. As for the competitive nature? Well, we’ll let the numbers do the talking.
A little more than two minutes in it was, 9-0. A tad less than seven minutes having been played it was, 30-4. UConn hit 11 of its first 13 shots. Jefferson had a pair of 3-pointers, a three-point play and 11 points at that point.
Frankly, SMU (4-8) was a train wreck and there was no body shop equipped to handle the damage. The Mustangs had 22 turnovers in the first half and 30 for the game. For most of the half the turnover total outdid the shots taken numbers, never a good thing.
The Huskies ended up with 26 points off of turnovers while taking a 49-16 first half lead. All of this despite a rare off day from Brianna Stewart who had just three first-half points and finished the game with a season-low of six points on just 2-of-9 shooting.
Ansonia walk-on Tierney Lawlor was a beneficiary of the one-sided tilt getting more than five minutes of playing time while seldom used walk-on Briana Pulido earned three minutes of time.
SMU did not have a double-digit scorer with Alicia Froling, Keely Froling and Raven Short all finishing with seven points apiece.
Expect Monday night to be a sterner test. Duke (8-3) is at the XL Center for a 9 p.m. game to be on ESPN2. The Blue Devils are young but may be the tallest team in the country. The Huskies are wanting a stern test.