UConn pushes past Orange to reach Big East title game
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 00:03
HARTFORD— After a 64-51 win against Syracuse last night, the Huskies are set to face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the third time this season; this time it’s for a conference championship.
To start last night’s game, things were physical and the Orange were not ready to just lie down and accept the UConn/Notre Dame rematch.
UConn gained the lead with 18:50 to go in the first half, and held on to it for the rest of the game. But it was far from smooth sailing for the Huskies. UConn had to work for every basket it made against a scrappy and tough Syracuse team.
Slowly over the course of the first 20 minutes, it looked like the Huskies were going to pull away from the Orange. After the first half of play, UConn had a 15-point, 39-24 lead and it seemed as though the Huskies were only going to build on it.
In the final 9:06 of that first half, the Orange only scored four points.
It looked like that seemingly inevitable runaway period when the Huskies leave their opponent in the dust was coming soon. But it never came.
“I thought going into halftime that I’d try to ruin it and I did,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the game.
UConn came out of the gate firing, at least for the first 30 seconds after freshman Moriah Jefferson scored a three-pointer 26 seconds in. From that point forward, however, things were messy for the Huskies.
Before the first media timeout, UConn had just three points and committed three turnovers.
In the game’s final 20 minutes, the Huskies had stretches of 4:05, 4:07 and 3:23 in which they did not score a single point.
Every time the Huskies scored a bucket, they’d give up a big shot on the defensive end by leaving a Syracuse player open.
If they didn’t blow it on defense, then it looked like the Huskies’ next offensive possession ended in a turnover.
Only twice in the entire second half did UConn score consecutive field goals without a turnover in-between.
“We just lost our flow,” UConn guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said afterward.
Lewis thought that Syracuse was successfully able to speed UConn up to a point where she said the Huskies weren’t comfortable. Rather than make smooth and crisp passes, she said that the Huskies just threw the ball around and hoped for the best.
“We play a certain way in the first half and we expect to continue it in the second half,” Mosqueda-Lewis said.
Senior guard Kelly Faris felt the same way as Mosqueda-Lewis.
“We just didn’t play smart in the second half,” Faris said.
Faris admitted that though at times it seems like the Huskies can’t put together a complete game, she knows that the Huskies can play a full 40 minutes.
Freshman center Breanna Stewart said that at times she plays too rushed and that she does not let the game come to her.
“We needed to settle ourselves down,” Stewart said.
Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis both scored 14 points in the game and Stewart also contributed seven rebounds.
Faris led the team in rebounds last night with 12 and she also had seven points.