IT AIN'T ALWAYS PRETTY
UConn coach Geno Auriemma stands at the edge of the court yelling during the Huskies’ game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Thursday night. JESS CONDON/The Daily Campus
Despite a sloppy performance and a stop-and-go game, the No. 2 UConn women's basketball team managed to pick up a 67-52 win against No. 10 Penn State Thursday night, its second win this week against a Top 10 team.
The game turned midway through the second half, when freshman Moriah Jefferson forced the Lady Lions into three turnovers during a 13-second stretch.
After a made free throw by junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Jefferson tipped Penn State forward Mia Nickson's inbounds pass back into the hands Mosqueda-Lewis for an easy layup. She quickly regrouped and pressured Nickson's inbounds again, this time stealing it herself and laying it in for an easy two points. On the third inbounds pass, Jefferson's pressure was clearly in the mind of Nickson, who promptly threw the ball out of bounds.
Beginning with Mosqueda-Lewis' two free throws that started the sequence, the frenzy pushed a six-point UConn lead to a 49-36 game with just over 10 minutes left to play.
"We changed defenses up, trying to get more traps and pressure on the ball so I was just trying to get any steals or any disruption," Jefferson said.
"So I think we speeded them up and got them out of their comfort zone a little bit."
The Huskies managed to make Penn State plenty uncomfortable with the ball, throughout the night, as they forced 26 turnovers. But sloppy play of their own prevented them from capitalizing, as UConn committed 20 turnovers of their own and managed to score just 20 points off of the Lady Lions' miscues.
A number of the turnovers for both teams came off of fouls, which were plentiful throughout the evening.
The referees called a tight game that frustrated both coaches, as the 38 fouls that were called prevented either team from being able to get into a rhythm.
"I didn't think the referees called the game like there were two Top 10 teams playing on the floor and I think that's unfortunate," Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. "I don't think the fans, or anybody watching on TV, got to see the kind of basketball that both teams are capable of because of the way the game was called."
UConn coach Geno Auriemma was also plenty frustrated with the officiating throughout the night, and that frustration turned into a technical foul just 33 seconds into the second half.
After a touch foul was called on junior center Stefanie Dolson near midcourt, Auriemma turned and kicked the video board next to the UConn bench before turning his attention towards the referees. His barking at the official - which occurred frequently throughout the night - quickly earned him a technical foul and sent Penn State guard Maggie Lucas to the free throw line in what was still an eight-point game at that point.
"I just think we have some real issues in women's basketball," Auriemma said. "And unless they get addressed, you're going to see more of these games, and that's not fair."
Though he said he had no desire to get ejected from the game, Auriemma said that he told one referee that he was going to make sure he was thrown out at some point during the game because of his displeasure with the nature of the officiating.
Despite her playing status being in doubt due to a quad contusion suffered against Maryland on Monday, Mosqueda-Lewis was the Huskies most effective player. She tallied a season-high 25 points - just two shy of her career mark - and came away with four steals in 35 minutes.
With the win, UConn improves to 8-0 on the year. Penn State drops to 6-2 with the loss.
After the finals week break, the Huskies' next game will be Dec. 19 against Oakland. That game will be played at the XL Center and is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off. It can be seen on SNY and heard on WTIC 1080 AM.
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