By Carl Adamec
HARTFORD, Conn. — The No. 23 playing for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team Monday night wasn’t Maya Moore, though Moore was at the XL Center to watch.
For long stretches, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis did the things Moore did during her spectacular four-year career with the Huskies. The frustrating part for the sophomore wing was that it wasn’t enough. She had 26 points, a career high 15 rebounds and three blocked shots but No. 1 Baylor slipped past the third-ranked Huskies 76-70 at the sold-out XL Center.
“She’s a great player,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “She had a double-double at the half and we put our best defender on her. I don’t know that Jordan Madden, who was guarding her, was doing a bad job. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that players are good. She’s got such a quick release. Credit her, she played extremely well.”
Mosqueda-Lewis was 11-for-14 from the floor and eight of her rebounds were on the offensive end as she recorded her third career double-double.
“I told Kaleena that this was the kind of game Maya used to have,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The only difference is that there was about a seven minute stretch, eight minute stretch where Kaleena wasn’t involved. Tonight was the kind of game were Maya would’ve scored 50 or 40-something. She is just learning how much more she can do than she did tonight.”
After scoring 13 points in the opening 20 minutes, Mosqueda-Lewis didn’t attempt her first shot of the second half until 10:45 remained. She scored nine points in a 4:25 stretch as the Huskies cut a seven-point deficit to two. Her try for the lead from 3-point land was on line but short and UConn got no closer.
“I disappeared in the middle of the first and second halves and I can’t really do that,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “When I don’t touch the ball for five minutes and I kind of hide then it hurts my team. When we’re not getting shots, turning the ball over, we’re putting pressure on people that don’t usually have to make shots like that.
“I thought we were making progress but you really get tested in a game like this. We didn’t do a good job executing out offense. We were kind of all over the place. We let their pressure take us out farther than we wanted. They would be in the gaps and we’d pass it right to them.”
The Huskies return to action Saturday for a Senior Day game against Seton Hall at Gampel Pavilion but it could also be a big day for Mosqueda-Lewis. She’ll need six points to become the fourth sophomore in UConn history to score 1,000. It will be her 64th career game. For those scoring at home, Moore was the fastest to the milestone (55 games).\