By Carl Adamec
TAMPA, Fla. — The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team didn’t get to enjoy Florida for a long time. But the Huskies did take care of business while they were here.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had a career high 32 points and Stefanie Dolson added a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds Saturday as No. 3 UConn downed South Florida 85-51 in Big East action at the Sun Dome.
The Huskies (27-2 overall, 14-1 Big East), who got to their hotel just after 11 p.m. Friday, were scheduled to head to the airport late Saturday afternoon and fly to South Bend, Ind., for Monday night’s matchup with No. 2 Notre Dame.
The Irish can clinch a least a share of its second straight regular season title by taking care of Providence later Saturday at Alumni Hall before playing host to UConn at the Joyce Center. If the Huskies and Irish finish league play tied at 15-1 having split their two meetings, UConn will be the No. 1 seed for the Big East tournament. The Huskies get the call based on the results against Marquette (2-0 for UConn, 1-0 for Notre Dame).
Mosqueda-Lewis topped her previous best of 27 points set against Marquette a year ago. She had 24 points in the first half when the game was decided. Dolson, who matched her career high in points set earlier this season against Syracuse, posted her second double-double of the season and fourth of her career. She had 18 points and eight rebounds by intermission.
Those two were ready right from the beginning of Saturday’s early start (noon).
Mosqueda-Lewis scored seven straight points in a 13-0 run that gave the Huskies a 15-4 lead. USF (19-9, 8-7) closed within 23-20 but Dolson had six points in an 11-2 burst that pushed the lead to 11. UConn scored the final six points of the period, including a breakaway by Kelly Faris just before the buzzer, to account for the 50-31 halftime score.
The Bulls scored the first basket of the second half but got no closer.
Faris finished with six rebounds and now has 751 in her career. She joins three-time Wade Trophy winner Maya Moore as the only UConn players with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 500 assists, and 250 steals. She also broke a tie with Debbie Baer and is now alone in fifth all-time at UConn in steals.
Freshman Morgan Tuck got her first career start, replacing Caroline Doty. But the fifth-year senior guard entered the game with just 3:59 gone.
UConn has never lost (48-0) to any of the five former Conference USA schools — Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, and USF — that joined the Big East for the 2005-06 season. The win also pushed UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s record to 700 games over .500 at 831-131. There are only 13 coaches, including Auriemma, with 700 wins total. The only coach more games over .500 than Auriemma is Tennessee Hall of Famer Pat Summitt (890), who finished her career with a 1,098-208 record.
Inga Orekhova had 13 points for USF.