By Carl Adamec
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team hasn’t lost in a regular season tournament in 20 years.
That streak was in no jeopardy at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Freshman Breanna Stewart had 17 points as the second-ranked Huskies routed No. 14 Purdue 91-57 in the Paradise Jam final round Saturday night.
Stewart was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 19.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in wins over Wake Forest, Marist, and Purdue. She is the second freshman to win MVP honors in the 13-year of the event. The Huskies’ Maya Moore in 2007 was the first.
UConn (5-0) won its three games by an average of 45.7 points. It never trailed at any point.
UConn opened with an 11-0 run. Baskets by Stewart, Kelly Faris, and Stewart off a pass from Stefanie Dolson got it started. Faris then hit a 3-pointer and Stewart returned the favor to Dolson for a layup. Purdue was 0-for-5 from the field with six turnovers before Drey Mingo beat the Huskies’ defense down the floor for a layup.
The Huskies built its lead to 20 on a Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis free throw after a technical foul on Purdue coach Sharon Versyp with 3:41 left in the period. The Boilermakers, who hit six of their first seven shots from behind the arc, got
back-to-back treys from KK Houser to cut it to 38-24, but All-American Bria Hartley’s layup capped a closing 8-2 run.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Courtney Moses and April Wilson made it 48-32 but UConn put it away with a 10-0 run. Stewart hit two free throws, Caroline Doty nailed a trey and set up Mosqueda-Lewis for a conventional three-point play, and Dolson
scored off a rebound.
The Huskies’ biggest lead was 40 at 81-41.
Mosqueda-Lewis (15), Hartley (12), and Dolson (10) also scored in double figures for UConn. Courtney Moses had 22 points for Purdue (5-1).
Earlier Saturday in the Virgin Islands, Marist defeated Wake Forest 81-66.