UConn doubles down on Marquette

By Carl Adamec

STORRS, Conn. — The Big East office didn’t have a lot of options when it came to giving the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team a second home-and-home series to go with its one with Notre Dame to ensure a 16-game conference schedule.

Since UConn would have played at West Virginia this season had the Mountaineers not defected to the Big 12, it had to be a team the Huskies would have played at home leaving the Big East office with DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Syracuse, and Villanova.

Memo to the person in the Big East office that decided it would be Marquette: Really, really bad idea.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led six players in double figures with 22 points as the third-ranked Huskies routed the Golden Eagles 94-37 in Big East action before an announced crowd of 6,430 at Gampel Pavilion Tuesday night.

“It’s what the Big East decided that we had to play them twice,” Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said. “We talked about it, that it’s going to be tough and we’ve got to get better. I knew it would be a tough game but that we would get better from the first game. Unfortunately we didn’t. That’s what is disappointing to me.”

UConn (21-1 overall, 8-1 Big East) is now 9-0 against Marquette with an average margin of victory of 32.9 points. The Huskies pounded the Golden Eagles 85-51 in the first meeting of the season Jan. 12 in Milwaukee.

The second meeting wasn’t any better.

“It felt like we finally got into a flow,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “The whole game we kept a flow going. We got shots outside and also got some stuff inside. We ran our stuff better than what we have been.”

With Brianna Banks out for the season and Morgan Tuck being held out with right knee pain, UConn coach Geno Auriemma had only nine players available, though he did his best to hold the score down.

Marquette actually led 3-0. But UConn responded with 19 straight points, including a trio of treys by Caroline Doty, to take the lead for good. After a 3-pointer by Arlesia Morse made it 19-6, the Huskies came back with 12 unanswered points. Then after Marquette’s Katherine Plouffe made a layup, it was an 11-0 UConn run for a 42-8 lead. The Golden Eagles then put six straight points together. How did UConn answer? With a 20-0 run including eight points by Mosqueda-Lewis and six by Breanna Stewart.

It was 62-17 at halftime and UConn’s biggest lead was 59.

“You have to play in February and March like you played in November and December, and that’s just go out and play,” Auriemma said. “As the season goes on you start to nitpick on a lot of things and you put guys in a bad spot. But I wanted them to be in a good spot and they responded.”

Mosqueda-Lewis, the nation’s leader in 3-point shooting percentage, was 5-for-5 from behind the arc in the first half but missed her only try with 17:25 left. The best 3-point shooting performance (by percentage) is Doty’s 6-for-6 against Oklahoma on Nov. 30, 2008. Ironically, Doty was 4-for-4 on treys Tuesday night.

“K was all over Caroline after the game because she has the record with six and K was like, ‘I’ve only got five,’ ” Faris said. “She was joking around, obviously. But it was fun to see them light it up. And when shots are going in for us it’s contagious.”

Mosqueda-Lewis couldn’t have been more open on the shot she missed. How open? She was able to follow her shot into the lane and grab the offensive rebound.

“I don’t know. I guess I just wanted another rebound,” Mosqueda-Lewis said with a laugh.

The sophomore from Anaheim Hills, Calif., is averaging 24.3 points in three games against Marquette.

All-American Bria Hartley added 20 points as she enjoyed one of her best shooting nights of the year. She was 5-for-7 from 3-point land.

“I just want to be someone that my teammates can rely on and I haven’t been that lately,” Hartley said. “I just came into the gym and told my teammates to help me out and encourage me a little bit because that always helps. I just tried to get up as many shots as possible.”

The Huskies finished 15-for-23 from behind the arc as Mosqueda-Lewis, Doty, and Hartley had their own shooting contest.

“Me and Bria do that a lot with each other but that’s just our nature to be competitive with each other because we know that we can take it,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “We like pushing each other. Today it was like, ‘C’mon Bria, keep making shots.’ “

Also in double figures for UConn were Stefanie Dolson (15), Doty (12), Kelly Faris (11), and Stewart (10). Faris and Kiah Stokes had seven rebounds each. Faris also had four assists to move into a tie for ninth with Tiffany Hayes on UConn’s all-time list.

Brooklyn Pumroy had 11 points for Marquette.

UConn plays host to DePaul Sunday at Gampel Pavilion.