UConn destroys St. Joe's 91-52 in the round of 32
Kiah Stokes (41) and Breanna Stewart (30) go up for a rebound against a Prairie View guard in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies would win 87-44. JESS CONDON/THE DAILY CAMPUS
STORRS, Conn. - UConn wasted little time giving fans who bought advance tickets in Lincoln some peace of mind in a 91-52 win over No. 9 seed St. Joseph's Tuesday night, thanks in large part to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
The Huskies led 8-0 before the game was two minutes old and never let the Hawks get closer than that as the night wore on, booking their tickets to Nebraska for the Sweet 16 in the process.
"You want to try to build toward something when the NCAA tournament starts," Geno Auriemma said. "And we played Sunday and we played OK, and today we played a lot better than we did on Sunday. That was the point, that was the goal."
The win was something of a re-emergence party for Mosqueda-Lewis, who had been struggling to find her typical All-American form because of her sporadic absence due to injury and illness.
"Everything that she does, I don't think it surprises any of us," Auriemma said. "So when we see her play the way she played tonight, we already know that she's more than somebody that can just make shots."
On Tuesday the junior forward looked more like her old self on the way to a triple-double, crashing the glass and mixing in some post ups on top of knocking down shots.
Her 20 points, 10 assists and 10 boards were good for the second triple-double the Huskies have notched this season; Stefanie Dolson recorded the other against Oregon on Nov. 20. Prior to this season, UConn had just one triple-double in program history, which came courtesy of Laura Lishness in 1989.
"That was me getting the rebounds, yes," Mosqueda-Lewis joked. "[...]The coaches have been telling me, 'You have to be a complete player, you have to make sure that you're contributing in different ways.' And I think that he's definitely right. You know, me playing at my best is when I'm doing everything."
For Dolson and fellow senior Bria Hartley, it was the final home game of their respective careers. With 4:34 left to play, Auriemma called timeout to remove Hartley from the game, which was met with a standing ovation from those in attendance. Two minutes later, Dolson was met with the same reception.
"At the end of the game, walking off and waving to all the fans that were here was just a special moment," Dolson said. "It's been an honor for me to play here for four years and, looking back, I wouldn't have had it any other way."
Of course, that four-year journey isn't over quite yet. The seniors' final home game put UConn into the Sweet 16 once again - the 21st straight year that its season has survived to the tournament's second weekend.
"It's pretty unique, it's pretty special," Auriemma said. "It's something that we've created through a lot of hard work and a lot of great players. We've been good for a long time, and that to me is what I'm going to remember I'm most proud of. We've been really good for a long time and we've been great a lot of times."
The Huskies will play No. 12 BYU on Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
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