The No. 1-ranked Connecticut Huskies seem to be adapting to life without Morgan Tuck very well. Tuck, a 6-2 sophomore forward who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in her right knee and missed five weeks earlier in the season, will undergo surgery to repair the balky knee and miss the remainder of the season. And so, down one key player, Breanna Stewart decided to take things into her own hands. Stewart, a 6-4 sure-fire All-American, scored a career-high 37 points in leading Connecticut to a 93-56 win over Temple before 2,030 fans at McGonigle Hall—an all-time women's basketball attendance record at the facility—in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 points, including a halftime buzzer beater that gave the Huskies a 49-32 advantage at intermission. Bria Hartley chipped in with 16 points and 11 assists, while Stephanie Dolson scored 11 points and hauled down a game-high 13 boards for the Huskies, who improved to 22-0 on the season (9-0 in the American Athletic Conference).
Rateska Brown, the only Owl in double digits, led Temple in scoring with 13 points.
The Owls hung tough with the Huskies for much of the first half. Trailing 22-15 with 11:18 remaining in the first half,Temple went on a 8-0 run capped by two points in the paint by Taylor Robinson that gave the Owls a 23-22 lead with 7:55 remaining until intermission.
But that was as good as it got for the Owls.
A quick layup by Stewart put the Huskies back on top, 24-23—a lead Connecticut would not relinquish. Stewie was red-hot in the first half, hitting on 10 of 11 shots and scoring 25 of her 37 points before intermission.
“She's in that frame of mind right now where every time she touches the ball, every time it leaves her hand, I'm surprised it doesn't go in,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma.
Overall, Stewie was 15-for-19 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from beyond the three-point arch. And she did all this in just 30 minutes of play.
“Any time you have a great player like that, you have a chance to have a great team,” said Auriemma of his superstar sophomore. And then, he added in typical Auriemma fashion: “But we've got a lot to work on still.”
“I want to be the best player in the country,” added Stewart, a sure-fire first-team All-American and leading candidate for national Player of the Year. “I want to obviously win a national championship, and I think the goal is winning a national championship every year, not just one. I'm going to be here for four years.”
Next up, the 22-0 (9-0) Huskies will be looking for their 29th consecutive victory spanning two seasons when the travel to Cincinnati to take on the 9-11 (2-7) Bearcats on Saturday. The game will be televised on SNY and streamed live on ESPN3. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.