This game proved to be no different from the rest. Led by 22 points from Breanna Stewart and 19 from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the Huskies cruised to an easy 83-57 win on Sunday over Rutgers in the American Athletic Conference semifinals at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Huskies, ranked No. 1 throughout the season, scored the game's first 13 points and never looked back after that.
Indeed, the Huskies' entire starting five put up double-digits as senior center Stefanie Dolson had 15 points, senior guard Bria Hartley added 12 and nine assists and sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson chipped in with 10 points and seven assists.
Briyona Canty led the No. 24-ranked Scarlet Knights with 16 points, while Kahlea Copper and Tyler Scaife added 12 points each for the No. 24-ranked Scarlet Knights, who fell to 22-9 and may be in jeopardy of not making the NCAA Tournament field.
The Huskies dominated play in every aspect on Sunday. Case in point: After Stewie, the American's 2014 Player of the Year, knocked home a trey from downtown Norwich that put UConn up 25-4 with 6:46 remaining in the first half. A few minutes later, the 6-4 sophomore showed why she was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and is the leading candidate for Naismith Player of the Year accolades when she came out of nowhere to block an attempted layup by Rutgers' Betnijah Laney, then knocked down a trey in transition.
The highlight reel series followed a Husky turnover by Jefferson.
“I honestly didn't think I was going to get to [Laney],” said Stewie after the game. “I thought I was too far away, but she slowed up a little bit and I was able to get there and make the block. Most of the time we're hustling back because usually once we lose the ball we want to make up for it. “
Connecticut-Rutgers used to be one of the top rivalries in all of women's college basketball. Not so anymore, as the Huskies led by 31 at halftime, turning the rest of the contest into a total yawnfest.
How dominant were the Huskies? Connecticut held Rutgers to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor (28.1 percent in the first half), and did not allow a single three-point attempt by the Scarlet Knights while knocking down 13 of 22 shots from beyond the arc themselves.
“Wow, I don't know,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma when asked the last time he saw a team not attempt a three-pointer in a game. “That's a good question. I don't remember a game off the top of my head where someone did not attempt even one three. I guess if you know you're not going to make 'em, why shoot 'em?”
In the other American semifinal, No. 2 seed Louisville stopped No. 3 USF, 60-56. That sets up a UConn-Louisville championship. The Huskies defeated the Cardinals twice in the regular season, with an 18.5-point average margin of victory.
“It's never easy to play someone two times in the span of a week,” said Auriemma, in reference to the Huskies' 68-48 win over the Cardinals on March 3 in Louisville. “There [are] a lot of things that they do that we struggle with, and a lot of stuff that we do that they struggle with. [Monday] night is huge for Louisville because everybody is talking about them being a No. 2 seed at home. [Louisville will be hosting one of the 2014 NCAA women's basketball regionals.]
“There are so many more good teams deserving of a No. 1 seed than they are, so the significance tomorrow night is huge,” continued the Hall of Fame coach, whose team improved to 33-0 overall. “Not only to win a conference championship but if they win [Monday night, then they probably are definitely a No. 1 seed, so it should be a great atmosphere.”
Tip-off at the Mohegan Sun Arena is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN.