Women's Basketball: UConn cruises past USF without three players
The No. 1 UConn women's basketball team continues to demolish its competition, even without three players. Without Morgan Tuck, Saniya Chong and Brianna Banks, the Huskies used the six remaining scholarship players to defeat South Florida, 81-53, Sunday afternoon to continue their 27-game winning streak dating back to last season.
UConn and USF have matched up 13 times since 2002, and UConn has been victorious in every contest. Last season, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis recorded a career high of 32 points in the match up against the Bulls, allowing UConn to dominate 85-51.
Bulls hard to brush off
USF has had a steady season thus far. Despite their four game losing streak in mid-December, the Bulls managed to fight back and win three games in a row. USF ended up falling a bit short in their recent conference game against Louisville, allowing the Cardinals to prevail and snap the Bulls' comeback momentum. In spite of their close conference loss, USF remains fourth, with five wins and two losses, in the American Athletic Conference. Of USF's eight losses, six have been by single digits, including No. 5 Louisville, showing that this team has potential.
"The team we played today is a pretty good team. I mean you look at them today and you say they've got a lot of pretty good pieces to the puzzle," head coach Geno Auriemma said. "They've been in the postseason, like, 10 of the last 11 years...There was no thinking going in that we were going to win by 50."
The Bulls gave UConn a hard time in the beginning of the first half, making it a close scoring game. USF's top scorer Courtney Williams started the game with two points right off the bat and never looked back. The Huskies trailed for a total of 3:05, which is huge for the team. However, it didn't take long for UConn to bounce back and make seven three pointers to take the lead back.
"The great thing about the regular season being so long is that you get the chance to go through some ups and downs and find yourself again and put yourself in the position to do some things once the postseason comes around," Auriemma said.
These girls are on fire
Moriah Jefferson continues to play spectacularly, as she has recorded 26 assists, 19 steals, 40 points and only three turnovers in the last four games. She has been a huge factor in both the backcourt and frontcourt.
"[Jefferson] has got a lot of ability and she can take the ball wherever she wants to take it and that's a huge advantage for any guard," Auriemma said. "She's really difficult to play against."
Bria Hartley has also been a huge force on offense as she banked 26 points. This was Hartley's third game in a row with 20 points or more and the 16th of her career. Breanna Stewart also tied her career high of 29 points, banking numerous shots leaving USF unsure of whom to guard first.
"There's really no room for error if you are out there and you are making mistakes. There is no one there that can come in and relieve you or help you out," Hartley said. "So you have to really focus. I think and go out there and play confident."
With the loss of two healthy players, it seems as if Jefferson and Hartley have taken the initiative to motivate and lead the Huskies through this season's journey. The two have been huge playmakers and have helped the team shine.
"There's a lot we have to fix during the month of February," Auriemma said. "But during the month of February is when the great teams separate themselves from all the other teams."
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