By Carl Adamec
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis can laugh about it now.
But when the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s sophomore was laying on the floor late in the Huskies’ game against Purdue in the final round of the Paradise Jam on Nov. 24 there was plenty to be concerned about.
Mosqueda-Lewis had collided with the Boilermakers’ 6-foot-2 and thick forward Taylor Manuel and as she fell to the floor her neck and head hit Manuel’s knee.
“I had to watch the replay to see what happened,” Mosqueda-Lewis said Sunday. “I didn’t know who it was. But when I saw her I thought, ‘I could see where I could get hurt.’ ”
Mosqueda-Lewis suffered a concussion and she missed UConn’s game with Colgate Wednesday.
But she returned to practice Friday and she’ll be back in the starting lineup Monday night when the Huskies (6-0) host No. 11 Maryland (4-1) in the Jimmy V Classic at the XL Center in Hartford.
“Kaleena looks great. She looks great,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Luckily it wasn’t as serious as it could have been. She’s normal and all good to go.”
But it didn’t look good when athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle was attending to Mosqueda-Lewis just over a week ago as the Huskies were putting the finishing touches on a 91-57 rout of the Boilermakers.
“The first thing I remember was everything was blurry and noises were really loud,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “The lights hurt my eyes and I just felt out of it. As soon as Rosie turned me over and I was sitting on the bench trying to watch, I could tell something was just off. Rosie took me in the back and I was trying to remember stuff and I just couldn’t remember.”
One of the things she couldn’t do was list the months backward. It was then that she knew there was a problem.
“That was bad, not good at all,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I forgot August. I reversed June and July. I forgot about April.
“I didn’t really know what happened right after. I just knew my head hurt and my neck was sore.”
The Huskies returned home the next day and Mosqueda-Lewis missed the two days of practice leading up to the Colgate game. It was the first game she has missed in her college career.
She was tested daily and on Friday got the clearance she needed to return to practice.
“Every day I got better and now I feel good,” Mosqueda-Lewis said.
The Anaheim Hills, Calif., native enters the game against Maryland averaging 16.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. She is shooting 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point land.
Auriemma said she’s been the Huskies’ best player so far in the young season.
“I’ve tried to change as a player, change as a teammate,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I think I’ve done an all right job to this point. I’m still trying to earn everyone’s trust.”
If there is a lingering concern, though, is that Mosqueda-Lewis has had three concussions in about a year.
“I’m not so much worried about it., It seems more like Rosie is worried about it,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I’m letting Rosie worry about it because unless I’m breaking something and I can’t play for a really long time I’m not going to worry.
“I don’t want to wear a helmet. If it happens, it happens. But I don’t know how I would wear my hair.”