Doubles and triples. Not baseball, but UConn basketball. That was the theme following UConn’s dismantling of an over-matched Saint Joseph’s team in the second round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis recorded a triple-double (20 pts, 10 rbs, 10 asst) as UConn staked itself to a 10-0 lead and rolled all over the Hawks, 91-52, before just over 4,200 at Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus Tuesday evening.
Sophomore Breanna Stewart (21 pts, 11 rbs) threw in a double-double for good measure, as all five starters hit for double figures, scoring all but two of UConn’s 91 points.
Did Mosqueda-Lewis’ game surprise UConn coach Geno Auriemma, “I don’t think it surprises any of us. When we see her play the way she played tonight, we already know that she’s more than somebody who can make shots. We see her do it a lot.” And added, “I was just probably as happy to see Kay play the way she did today because I think deep down in her heart today showed who she is. It just doesn’t come out enough times.”
UConn strikes first…again
For the second game in a row top ranked and #1 seed UConn jumped out to a double digit lead before a Sarah Fairbanks (12 pts, 5 rbs) layup broke the ice just over three minutes in. The Hawks (23-10) stayed within striking distance, only trailing by ten with eleven minutes left, before a UConn (36-0) 17-2 run over the next five minutes opened up a 41-16 lead, ending any Saint Joseph’s dreams of an upset.
UConn dropped another 10-0 run on the #9 seeded Hawks to open the second half, taking a 60-26 lead at the 17:01 mark, and cruised the rest of the way.
Seniors Stefanie Dolson (17 pts, 6 rbs) and Bria Hartley (20 pts) played their last game before the UConn faithful and looked back over their four years and ahead, presumably, to the next four games, that they hope will culminate in UConn’s second straight National Championship.
Said Dolson, “The end of the game, walking off and waving to all the fans that were here was just a special moment. It’s been an honor for me to play here for four years and looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The journey I’ve had has been perfect for me.”
Hartley echoed much the same sentiment saying, “The four years I’ve had here have been awesome and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone other than (Dolson), my teammates and the coaching staff. I think it was just an awesome experience.”
Next stop, Lincoln, NE
For the seniors, their time in Gampel may be done, but they hope the journey takes them to the Final Four in Nashville, TN in two weeks.
The keys going forward. “Just focus on our defense and executing offensively”, Dolson said, ”We know teams are going to throw whatever they can at us because we have so many people that can score the ball and we have to be ready for anything and I think the coaches do a great job preparing for it.”
UConn outscored the Hawks and first round opponent Prairie View A & M by an average of 41 points and travel to Lincoln, NE for the Sweet 16 and a Saturday afternoon (4:30) match-up with twelve seed BYU.
Auriemma summed it up, “This is the best time of the year and I’m really proud of these two guys, (Hartley and Dolson), because it’s been an incredible four years and I know I don’t want it to end and I don’t think they do either.”
So right, Geno. So right.