By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team hasn’t lost a NCAA tournament first-round game in 20 years and it wasn’t about to happen Saturday.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored all 22 of her points in the first half as the top-seeded Huskies pounded No. 16 Idaho 105-37 in Bridgeport Regional action before an announced crowd of 4,627 at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn (30-4) will face No. 8 Vanderbilt in a second-round game here Monday night. Tiffany Clarke had 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Commodores topped ninth-seeded Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) 60-54. The Huskies will be seeking their 20th consecutive berth in the Sweet 16.
Freshmen Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson added career highs of 18 and 16 points respectively as UConn established a NCAA record with its eighth straight 30-win season. The Huskies, who had shared the record with Duke (2001-07), reached 30 wins for the 18th time in the last 20 years.
UConn landed the quick knockout punch against the Vandals (17-16), who started three freshmen and were making their first NCAA appearance since 1985.
Two baskets by Bria Hartley and one by Stefanie Dolson got UConn started. Mosqueda-Lewis then scored the next nine points to make it 15-0. Idaho opened the game by going 0-for-5 from the floor with seven turnovers. Connie Ballestero finally got the Vandals on the board with 5:20 gone but UConn got the next seven points for a 22-3 lead. UConn closed the half with a 28-4 run for a 58-17 halftime lead.
It didn’t get better in the second half as the Huskies scored the first 18 points and held Idaho off the board for 7:29 until Jessica Graham hit a free throw.
UConn has gone 727 games since the start of the 1993-94 season without back-to-back losses. The Huskies are 55-0 following a defeat in that span.
Joining Mosqueda-Lewis, Tuck and Jefferson in double figures were Kiah Stokes (14), Hartley (13) and Dolson (10). Stokes also had 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
UConn was without freshman Breanna Stewart, who suffered a left calf injury in practice Friday. She had a MRI and the injury is not considered serious.
Stacey Barr had 14 points for Idaho, with 12 coming in the final 3:35 when the Vandals sank five 3-pointers to avoid a NCAA tournament record for scoring futility.