KML throws a triple double at St. Joesph's. Huskies to Sweet 16.
STORRS: “We’ve been good for a long time,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “We have been great a lot of the time.”
The second part of the above mentioned statement could describe two distinct things about the UConn women’s performance on Tuesday night as they moved on into the Sweet 16 with an easy 91-52 win over St. Joseph's.
It marks the 21st straight time the Huskies have advanced to the Regionals and they will face off against No. 12 BYU, a team that upset No. 4 Nebraska on Monday night and will go at it with the Huskies on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Hawks are not real big fans of the University of Connecticut basketball teams right now. Both Hawks teams have been bounced from the NCAA Tournament over the last week, the men dropping an 89-81 overtime decision to Kevin Ollie and company.
What was great for the UConn team and not so hot for the rest of the country was the magnificent play of junior Kaleena Mosquada-Lewis, who recorded the first ever post season triple-double in school history.
Her 20 points, coupled with 10 assists and 10 rebounds showed a side of her game that has been missing at times this year due to injuries and inconsistent play.
“Today is who she is,” Auriemma said.
From the start, this night was different for KML. She was crashing the boards with abandon and had three assists in the first three minutes of the game.
As has been their forte most of this 36-0 season, the home team jumped out to a fast 8-0 run in the first 100 seconds of play.
Moriah Jefferson and Mosqueda-Lewis drained back to back threes after senior Stefanie Dolson opened the scoring with an easy layup, off an assist from Mosqueda-Lewis.
Dolson recorded the second-ever triple-double in regular season school history earlier this year.
The Huskies had a height mismatch with KML, who was matched up against a much shorter guard in Erin Shield, giving away a half of foot. Although the Hawks guard stayed with her taller opponent most of the night, she had a real problem going up with her.
Who knows how much better UConn can get if they get the kind of action out of their three[point shooting ace the rest of the tournament.
Two weeks ago, Auriemma had though his junior sharpshooter was playing at no better than a five (out of ten) but he saw the player he and his coaches want to see more of.
“The only one who sometimes doubts what she can do is K,” Auriamma said. “We think she is the player we saw tonight every night. That’s how good she can be.”
In their last game at Gampel, seniors Dolson (17 points, six boards) and Bria Hartley (20 points, 4-6 from three-point land) were two of the team's five to land in double figures.
Breanna Stewart (21, 11 boards) and Jefferson (11) rounded out the scoring, less a late bucket from Brianna Banks.
How do you beat a team that is playing as well as the Huskies are right now at this stage of the tournament?
“It’s hard,” Hawks coach Cindy Griffin said afterwards. “They have so many weapons that you can’t focus on shutting down just one. Somebody else steps up.”
Shields summed up what it like to prepare for UConn, then actually perform against them.
“You look at them on film,” Sheilds said. “And it doesn’t look that hard. But it is hard, it’s very hard to play against them.”
At this time of the year, Auriemma and his coaches are looking to get better each and every round.
“I thought we played a lot better tonight than we did on Sunday,” Auriemma said. “We did some things really well tonight but will need to get even better for our next game.”
They are so deep, they are so talented, they are so tall. It will take a special effort from a hot team to put a scare in the Huskies.
That and a lights out shooting night with the Huskies struggling or as Griffin joked, “Maybe they don’t show up?”
Trouble is, we just haven’t seen that very often from this team this season.
All they do is improve each and every time they are on the court.
NOTES: Still astounds me that with a team with a perfect 35-0 record coming in does not attract more of the UConn student body. A majority of the upper deck seats at Gampel were empty and the crowd was distinctly older than college age.