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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart deliver another title for UConn

Sometimes it is easy to forget how much the duo of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart play their best when the stakes are the highest.

Playing for the American Athletic Conference tournament title against a South Florida team that wasn't about to just walk out there and treat a game against the Huskies as a chance to ask the UConn players for their autographs, the two All-Americans were asked to lead their team to the promised land. They did just that.

Midway through the second half USF was within 15 points and in danger of making things really interesting. Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart had six points each the rest of the way to keep the Bulls at arm's length.

Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 23 points to go with a team-high six assists while Stewart had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the top-seeded and top-ranked Huskies to an 84-70 win before 6,499 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"I think our team has done a great job of preparing ourselves for March, preparing ourselves for teams that aren't just going to roll over for us when they play us," said Mosqueda-Lewis, who joined Maya Moore and Kara Wolters as the only UConn players to be named the most outstanding player in a conference tournament more than once. "I think our team has done a great job of spreading out the scoring, Morgan (Tuck) needs to get rebounds, Stewie needs to get rebounds, I need to score or Moriah (Jefferson) needs to score."

Some of the greatest players in the history of women's basketball have suited up for UConn but no player has scored in double digits in consecutive games more than Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis.
Stewart has accomplished the feat in all 19 postseason games she has played in and she is ninth all-time at UConn with 157 points in conference tournament play with a season to go. Mosqueda-Lewis made it 18 straight postseason games in double figures and she is sixth in program history with 180 points in conference tournaments.

"It means a lot and whether I am looking for her or she is looking for me, we both have an extreme amount of confidence in each other," Stewart said. "If we go to one side and play a two-man (game), it is almost impossible to guard because they are going to have to give us something.
We've embraced the role that we play on this team and everybody is confident in us and the shots that we take, we just have to keep that momentum going."

When he wasn't bemoaning the lack of votes his team has received in the national polls (for the sake of full disclosure, I vote on the Associated Press poll and have voted them in the top 25 in five of the last nine weeks including the last two), he offered some helpful insight on what makes the top-ranked Huskies so hard to deal with.

"They have five (starters) who shoot over 50 percent, it is tough how you are going to defend the post or how you are going to double the post," South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. "What Connecticut does so well is they move the basketball and pass really well so your defensive adjustments, your reactions to passes have to be very good."

Now for a little more on the Mosqueda-Lewis/Stewart tandem, they are just the fourth set of UConn teammates to have at least 50 points during the same conference tournament.

1995: Kara Wolters (76 points)/Rebecca Lobo (58 points)
2009: Maya Moore (63 points)/Tina Charles (52 points)
2011: Stefanie Dolson (Maya Moore (50 points)
2015: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (62 points)/Breanna Stewart (51 points)
They both rank in the top 10 in UConn history in the number of points in conference tournament play.

Kara Wolters 242
Kerry Bascom 200
Tina Charles 192
Stefanie Dolson 189
Maya Moore 181
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 180Diana Taurasi 169
Shea Ralph 166
Breanna Stewart 164Rebecca Lobo 155

Finally, the 3-pointer late in the game was the 100th of Stewart's career. She joins Maya Moore, Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi as the only UConn players with 100 career rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and 3-pointers.

FIBA announced the list of candidates eligible to be a part of the 2015 class. While there were no UConn players to make the list, Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan is among the candidates.

Donovan was a member of the U.S. gold-medal winning teams in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and also the head coach of the 2008 Olympic championship team. She also won two gold medals in the Pan Am Games as a player.


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