By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn — Stefanie Dolson didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.
On the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s first possession of the second half against Marquette Tuesday night, Dolson took a pass from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis at the top of the key behind the 3-point line and without hesitation let it fly. The Huskies had made 10 treys in the first half in building a 45-point lead and Dolson made it 11. UConn would finish with 15 in its 94-37 rout of the Golden Eagles.
“A lot of shots were going in and it’s easy and fun when we get the shots that we want,” Dolson said.
The fun part was important to coach Geno Auriemma. Not only did the Huskies match the program’s second-best total for 3-pointers in a game, they had 33 first-half fast break points and there’s no telling how much they would have finished with if Auriemma didn’t have his team slow the pace to try and keep the score down over the final 20 minutes.
“We talked a lot about how this time of year what happens is teams become very constricted,” Auriemma said. “You don’t want to make a lot of mistakes, you harp on every little thing, and I felt like we were doing that. I felt like we were becoming too constricted. When we watched the St. John’s tape, a game like that makes you feel like, ‘Man, this can’t be any fun. Who wants to play basketball like this?’ And St. John’s played great.
“We had a lot of discussions with the coaching staff when we got back about this is not the time to be walking the ball up the floor and trying to make the perfect pass and get the perfect set and get the perfect guy shooting the perfect shot. That’s not the way to go. I think the way to go is you’ve got to play in February and March like you played in November and December. In November and December you just play because you’re not worried about anything.”
So the third-ranked Huskies will try to push the pace again Sunday when they play host to DePaul in Big East action at Gampel Pavilion. UConn (21-1 overall, 8-1 Big East) should be able to do so because the Blue Demons (17-6, 6-3) are also better in an uptempo game.
Both teams are near the top in the Big East in most offensive categories. The difference, though, is on defense. UConn is again near the top in most categories while DePaul ranks 13th in scoring defense and 11th in field-goal percentage.
Dolson leads the nation in field-goal percentage (61.8) while Mosqueda-Lewis has opened up an edge over Penn State’s Maggie Lucas as the top 3-point shooter in the country (51.1 percent).
Mosqueda-Lewis hit her first eight shots, including five treys, against Marquette. She then missed a chance to match Caroline Doty’s school record 6-for-6 from behind the arc with a miss with 17:25 left. Her only other miss of the game came on the ensuing offensive rebound.
“It doesn’t surprise you when Kaleena does it,” UConn guard Bria Hartley. “Everyone gets excited.”
“I don’t know how you can be better,” Auriemma said. “When Kaleena’s in the game it’s almost like I never want to take her out. I never want her out of the game, ever. She didn’t commit one foul (Tuesday). I want it to be like that all year. I don’t even want her to think about fouling anybody because I know that in a three-minute stretch she’s going to blow the game open. That’s how much confidence we have in her right now.”
DePaul also has one of the top 3-point shooters in the country in guard Anna Martin. But the senior is listed as questionable for Sunday with a left knee injury suffered Jan. 19. Sophomore Brittany Hrynko and junior Jasmine Penny have picked up much of the slack. Senior Katherine Harry leads the Big East in rebounding.
The Blue Devils did not make it to Connecticut Saturday because of the blizzard. According to a team spokesperson, they are scheduled to fly out of Chicago around 9 a.m. (CST) Sunday. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m., Eastern time.
According to a press release from UConn, parking will be available in both the North and South Parking garages as usual. The University has cleared the majority of the snow from the surface lots used for game day parking and has also cleaned up sidewalks and other pedestrian ways around Gampel Pavilion. Fans are asked to consider arriving early on campus for the game as the snow will have some effect on the amount of time it takes to drive on the local roads around campus and park.