By Carl Adamec
HARTFORD, Conn. — It would be too easy to call Stefanie Dolson the Ms. Inside of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis the Ms. Outside of the Huskies.
Whatever you want to call them, Villanova had no answer for either one Tuesday night.
Dolson had 20 points and Mosqueda-Lewis 19 as No. 3 UConn walloped the Wildcats 76-43 in Big East action before 10,324 at the XL Center.
“Stefanie and Kaleena are in a really good place right now, a really good rhythm,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “They’re just really confident right now. Anybody that can make shots can carry us. Stefanie feels really comfortable (facing the basket). I don’t know that you could do a lot to not have her get that shot because of what else is going on around her. What Kaleena does, that’s what she does all the time. Ideally, you want three scorers every night. That’s not going to happen all the time, but if you know you’re going to have two definite you find another one somewhere.”
Breanna Stewart added 14 points for the Huskies (19-1 overall, 6-1 Big East), who moved into sole possession of second place in the league, one game behind Notre Dame, with their seventh consecutive win. They have also won 10 straight against Villanova by an average margin of 32.3 points.
Dolson, the nation’s leader in field-goal percentage coming in, was 8-for-11 from the floor. Mosqueda-Lewis, who came in ranked second nationally behind Penn State’s Maggie Lucas in 3-point shooting percentage, was 5-for-6 from behind the arc. The best 3-point shooting game percentage-wise in UConn history is Caroline Doty’s 6-for-6 against Oklahoma on Nov. 30, 2008.
A kinder rim with 17:29 left and the sophomore would have matched Doty’s perfect performance.
“I thought it was in and it rimmed out. It’s kind of depressing,” Mosqueda-Lewis said with a smile.
“It just went well for me tonight. Coach told us the dribble handoffs would be open for us whether you have a jump shot or a drive. Whenever I shot the ball it felt like a good shot and a smart shot. Luckily tonight they were falling.”
The last thing UConn wanted to fall into Villanova’s trap of playing a slow tempo. So the Huskies did the thing that would speed up the Wildcats — take an early lead.
“We were getting stops on defense, making them tough shots and getting the rebounds, and then running our transition offense,” Dolson said. “Our best offense is when we get defensive stops and go down and get easy buckets.”
Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis set the tone offensively from the start. Both scored as UConn put up the game’s first seven points. A spurt of 10 unanswered points, including five by Stewart, made it 27-10.
The Huskies blew it open as Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis combined for the first 13 points in a 15-0 run that pushed the lead 30. It was 44-17 at halftime.
Villanova (16-4, 5-2) got no closer than 24 the rest of the way and that was in the first two minutes of the half.
“It’s the same formula against Villanova all the time,” Auriemma said. “If you’re able to come down and maximize your possessions and put some points on the board and put pressure on their guys to make shots, that’s your best chance. If you’re not taking advantage of your possessions and you’re playing catch-up against them, it’s a long, long night.”
Instead it was a long night for the Wildcats, who shot 27.6 percent from the floor including 25.0 percent (7 for 28) from 3-point land.
“For us, we have to make 10 threes to stay within 15 points,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “I’m not saying to win the game, just to stay within 15 points. My team this year, we have 16 wins but we really aren’t that much better than we were last year. We’re a little more mature and we are winning close games that we lost last year, but we aren’t close to making the jump to the top five in the country. I think we are a top-30 team, but there is a big difference between 30th and fifth. For us, any chance we have to beat an opponent at a higher level is to make a lot of threes. I don’t think we missed them tonight. I think their defense had a lot to do with it.”
Jesse Carey, who entered the game averaging 1.5 points per game, finished with nine points to lead the Wildcats. Leading scorers Laura Sweeney and Rachel Roberts combined for just nine points.
Villanova has not beaten UConn in Connecticut since a 50-44 win at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 27, 1993.
The Huskies are off until Saturday when they travel to New York to take on St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena (2 p.m., SNY). The Red Storm (9-9, 3-3) play at Providence Wednesday night. St. John’s ended UConn’s NCAA record 99-game home winning streak a year ago at Gampel Pavilion.