No. 2 UConn beats No. 3 Stanford 68-58
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)
Over the past four years on the rare occasion when UConn's offense sputtered, Maya Moore would usually find a way to bail them out.
On Monday night, with the team struggling to score and Moore in the WNBA, the Huskies had to turn to a new No. 23 - Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to provide a spark offensively. The freshman had her second straight 25 points and Bria Hartley added 19 to help No. 2 Connecticut beat third-ranked Stanford 68-58.
''She amazes me, reminds me a little bit of Maya last year, so hopefully she can keep that up,'' senior guard Tiffany Hayes said.
Mosqueda-Lewis quickly downplayed the comparison.
''I'm just playing,'' she said. ''The number 23, it was Maya's number, she's a great player, but I was just playing, being myself.''
Geno Auriemma wasn't ready to heap praise on freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis just yet.
''There are some things I'll share with you down the road,'' Auriemma said laughing. ''She's a basketball player and her reputation is she's a shooter coming out of high school. Shooters fill up the box that says shot attempts. There were a lot of numbers in a lot of boxes under her name. A lot of things she does intangibly.''
Mosqueda-Lewis and Hartley carried the Huskies (3-0) for the first 25 minutes as the rest of UConn couldn't make a shot.
''I think me and Bria play really well off of each other,'' Mosqueda-Lewis said. ''When one of us isn't scoring, one shoots the other is going in to rebound. If one is making defense plays the other one is there to back `em up. So, I think we're a good combination.''
Trailing by six at the half, Stanford (3-1) went on a 10-2 run to start the second half, led by Nnemkadi Ogwumike. Her layup gave Stanford a 36-34 lead. UConn answered as Stefanie Dolson hit a layup - ending an 0-for-24 drought by the other Huskies to start the game - that began a 15-6 burst.
After Dolson's jumper, Hayes, who missed her first 10 shots, made a layup and a 3-pointer. Hartley's layup capped the run and made it 51-42 with 9:19 left. Stanford could only get within six the rest of the game.
Hayes finished with only nine points, but had 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
''In the past when she didn't make shots she'd get down on herself. It happened in first half a little bit,'' Auriemma said. ''She was trying too hard. Those 13 rebounds and six assists Tiffany had, had a lot to do with us winning the game tonight.''
These two teams have developed a vigorous rivalry over the past few years. Before Monday, they had played five times in the last three seasons with three of those meetings coming in the Final Four. UConn beat Stanford for the 2010 national championship and the Cardinal ended the Huskies' NCAA record 90-game winning streak last December.
Stanford had a chance to end another streak as the Huskies had won NCAA record 85 straight home games, including 41 in a row at the XL Center. The Huskies, who last lost at home in the 2007 Big East championship game, wouldn't let that one end spurred on by the 13,771 fans, which included UConn great Sue Bird.
''Tonight was Connecticut's night,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''They really were on a mission and I wouldn't take anything away from what they did.''
This is the earliest these two powerhouses have met on the schedule and it was a chance for UConn to see where it stood against a top opponent.
''It was like a November heavyweight fight,'' VanDerveer said. ''It was extremely physical and very good for our team to see that and get ready for it.''
After two easy victories to start the season, this was UConn's first test since Moore graduated. The four-time All-America and two-time player of year, who helped lead the Minnesota Lynx to a WNBA title this past summer, was at the game, shadowing ESPN commentator Rebecca Lobo.
Without their all-time leading scorer, UConn got off to a slow start. The Huskies missed their first 10 shots and trailed Stanford 5-2 before Mosqueda-Lewis took over. She made a driving layup 6 minutes into the game for UConn's first basket. She followed that up with a 3-pointer as UConn went on an 8-0 run over the next 5 minutes.
After Stanford took a 21-19 lead on Jasmine Camp's jumper, Lewis and Hartley combined for all the points during a 13-2 burst. Lewis capped the run with a 3-pointer. UConn led 32-26 at the break.
She finished with 19 points at the half and Hartley had 11. The two were 12 for 18 while the rest of the Huskies were 0 for 17. Auriemma was shocked to learn that his players
Lewis had 25 points in UConn's win over Pacific.
''Kaleena Lewis is a great player and she stepped up tonight,'' VanDerveer said. ''We know she's an excellent shooter, I've watched her play since she's in the ninth grade.''
Ogwumike picked up two quick fouls and played just six minutes in the first half. She scored 18 of her 22 points after the half to lead Stanford.
''Nneka unfortunately had some fouls, but she came back and did a great job,'' VanDerveer said.
Both teams honored Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna who were killed in a plane crash Thursday night. UConn players wore an Oklahoma State logo above the Nike swoosh on their jersey and Stanford players wore orange shoelaces and ribbons in their hair. Both coaching staffs also had orange ribbons on in support. There was a moment of silence before the game.
''We'll wear them throughout the season,'' Auriemma said. ''It's a little reminder that when I'm yelling and screaming on the sideline that there are bigger more important things than a basketball game.''
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