UConn women's basketball tops Pittsburgh in Hartford
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 23:02
It took just 14 seconds for UConn guard Kelly Faris to find a wide open Stefanie Dolson right underneath the rim for the game’s first two points.
It took just 21 seconds for Pittsburgh’s Loliya Briggs to commit the game’s first turnover, Pittsburgh’s first of 18, 11 of which happened in the first half.
At that point, it looked like the game was headed for the blowout that everybody in the building—save maybe a few fans of the Panthers—was expecting.
At the end of 40 minutes, the Huskies had won 76-36. The blowout came; it just took a little bit longer to develop than most expected.
After the Panthers’ Brianna Kiesel tied the game 2-2 with a fast break, the game score stayed the same for 1:56. In that span, both teams combined for 0-7. Finally, Kiesel broke the tie and made it 4-2.
The scoreless streak for UConn continued and it went on for another 1:10 until a Kelly Faris three-pointer gave the Huskies a 5-4 lead. In the 3:25 between their first two buckets, the Huskies went 0-7.
UConn then turned the ball over on two consecutive possessions before Faris made another jumper that gave the Huskies a 7-6 lead. The Panthers responded and took an 8-7 lead with 14:07 to go.
After the game’s first 5:57, the Panthers, who hadn’t won a Big East game in 31 contests, were beating the Huskies at home. It was, however, the last time, Tuesday night, when the Panthers would see themselves in the lead.
The Huskies outscored the Panthers 30-5 to end the first half and for the rest of the game, the Panthers saw what was once—albeit for a brief time—a lead slowly morph into a game that was well out of reach.
By the first half’s end, the Huskies had a 37-13 lead despite 10 turnovers and just one trip to the foul line. During the half’s final 9:26, Pittsburgh went without a field goal with nine missed shots and seven turnovers.
The second half, like the latter part of the first half, was dominated by UConn in frenzy of what a couple of UConn players described as “sloppy basketball.”
It was a reminder that even on nights when the Huskies do not play anywhere near their best basketball, UConn is still better than Pittsburgh.
After the game, the players unanimously agreed that the game didn’t have the sort of rhythm that they wanted it to have. To them it seemed like every missed shot led to a loose ball and that the passes, at times, did not string together.
“We really didn’t get the flow of the game,” Faris said.
Throughout the night, Faris said that the Huskies committed what she called “dumb turnovers.” UConn committed 13 turnovers on the night, 10 of which came in the first half.
“Those are going to kill us in big games,” she said.
UConn guard Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis, who led all players in scoring with 19 points, was on the floor for the entire game and afterward, she slouched down on a couch in the VIP Lounge that doubled as the interview room and took a deep breath.
“Halftime was my friend,” she said.
When UConn coach Geno Auriemma addressed the media, he said that while he was aware that Mosqueda-Lewis was on the court for the entire game, he did not see anything wrong with it.
“It’s never a bad thing to have Kaleena out on the floor,” he said. “I just don’t try to find the reason to take her out right now.”
UConn next takes the court on Saturday against South Florida and after that, the Huskies will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a nationally televised game Monday night. Both of these contests have implications for the regular season conference championship.