I was kind thinking that was what was going to happen. A tad disappointing, sure, for those who hoped for a better match. But damn, there was some beautiful basketball on display, wasn’t there? The game was worth that jab step-drive by by MoJeff.
“We weren’t settling,” Stewart said. “We were really attacking them. We knew that we could drive past some of their bigs. We got the shots that we wanted. And we knocked them down.”
And the biggest presence on the court was the player who ran that offense, the smallest player on a court of giants.
With the first half winding to a close, Huskies guard Moriah Jefferson dribbled at the top of the key, calm but balanced on the balls of her feet. In front of her stood South Carolina’s Tina Roy and, more distant, two tiers of Connecticut students in the stands of Gampel Pavilion. The rumble of voices started to build even before Jefferson completed the crossover that left her defender helpless. It crescendoed into a roar as she exploded to the basket and finished.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the Huskies (23-1) with 23 points. She drained five more three-pointers. Breanna Stewart added 22. She had eight rebounds. And Morgan Tuck scored 17 points.
Still it was Moriah Jefferson, with 16 points, six assists and two steals, who brought the blowtorch on this cold and snowy night. With the exhilaration and creativity that has come to define her career, she slipped her tiny body into every seemingly inaccessible crevice South Carolina left open.
“People are afraid to play these games in February because what happens if we lose? They are afraid of the aftermath. I look forward to the aftermath. I am going to be a lot happier Tuesday morning than I was Monday night. … That’s what coaching is, to help your players understand the significance of everything. That’s how we treat it here.”
“We had something to prove to ourselves more than anything to show that despite all the teams that we were playing and blowing out, people saying we didn’t have the competition,” said Mosqueda-Lewis, who had a game-high 23 points to go with four steals as UConn improved to 17-3 in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups. “We just wanted to show that we could stand up for and (rise) to the occasion.”
UConn women’s basketball up for this ‘challenge’, Boston Globe
Generally one play doesn’t summarize a game, yet it did Monday night at Gampel Pavilion when the UConn women’s basketball team apparently was supposed to be threatened by undefeated and top-ranked South Carolina.
With just over 11 minutes remaining and the No. 2 Huskies on a fast break, All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis received a trailing pass from point guard Moriah Jefferson and found tiny point guard Tiffany Mitchell defending her.
Mosqueda-Lewis used her bulk, flicked Mitchell to the floor like a mosquito and then drained a 3-pointer.
Women’s showdown: No. 2 UConn humbles No. 1 South Carolina, Philadelphia Inquirer
The final score was 87-62. Afterward, answering the first question, Staley used the word “efficient” a couple of times to best describe UConn.
“They think about who should shoot the ball and who should have the ball in their hands, and they’re patient enough to wait for it,” Staley said. “It makes basketball a beautiful thing to see.”
As the lead grew, South Carolina’s bigger players started to look winded. UConn’s, spurred on by an announced crowd of 10,167 that braved a New England snowstorm to watch the show, seemed to get fresher.
Stewart called it a statement game, a chance to show the rest of the country that the Huskies — who play in the lightly regarded, and sometimes derided, American Athletic Conference — can contend with the best teams that power leagues like the Gamecocks’ Southeastern Conference have to offer. Mosqueda-Lewis said plainly, “We’re as good as people think we are.”
“When you compare UConn to some other programs, they are sharp, efficient and there is no fat to what they do,” Staley said. “We have a 24-hour rule. We will be dejected for 24 hours and then we have to move on.”
Unbeaten no more: No. 2 UConn women’s team humbles No. 1 South Carolina, Sporting News
UConn women hand South Carolina its first loss of the season, CBS Sports
It’s UConn and everyone else – again, AggieSports.com, The Eagle
I thought South Carolina would give UConn a game, maybe even win. UConn was impressive, so impressive it was bad for the women’s game. It looks like another year where everyone is else playing for second. South Carolina seemingly had proven to be a worthy challenger. But, UConn won by 25 points, 25 points? Can anyone beat UConn?
1 Done: Huskies maul Gamecocks, The State
“We’re tied for first in our conference, and we don’t want to lose sight of being a really good basketball team,” Staley said. “That’s what we are.”
The loss stung, as it should have. It was their worst since 2011.
But there’s a lot of basketball to be played. Asked if they’d like to play UConn again, Staley and her players interrupted each other.
“Absolutely. Of course.”
Fans turn out for Gamecocks at Vista bar, The State
Video: A’ja Wilson quizzes Geno Auriemma, The State
Video: Mechelle & Michelle on the game, ESPN
Sapakoff: Gamecocks will benefit from Rivalry 101 lesson at UConn, Charleston Post and Courier
The only thing better than No. 1 vs. No. 2 pitting the established power with nine NCAA championships against new kids on the title contender block is a long, loud series.
Round Two is tentatively scheduled for the Final Four in Tampa.
A certain meeting will happen next season in Columbia.
“This is absolutely part of our journey,” Staley said. “In order to accomplish some milestones that we have this particular year, this is part of our journey. I think each and every time we need to learn a lesson.
“This isn’t a destination game for us. We have a lot of basketball left to play.”
There’s an interesting question for those with better basketball brains in their heads than mine: Is UConn in the American the next LaTech, or is UConn in the American the next UConn? The Huskies pretty much stomped all over their Big East opponents, minus a couple of hiccups (Rutgers, Villanova) and the Dearly Departed Diggins-led Irish. And, despite not playing against “challenging” competition, UConn still managed to rack up the Championships.
Fast-forward to last night: Connecticut beat the (current) best team in the SEC. How do folks think they would fare against South Carolina’s fellow conference-mates?
So, if no other conference poaches UConn, will the women’s basketball program continue to thrive? Or, as Jere’ posits, will the (sometime in the future) departure of Auriemma defeat the program (the way, perhaps, Mulkey’s departure signaled the “end” of the LaTech as a powerhouse program)?
In other news:
Ooops! Did Norfolk State take their eyes off the prize?
Fans of the University of Maine women’s basketball program have for several years been yearning for a team in which they can believe.
Finally, the Black Bears and their supporters are enjoying that winning feeling.
The most recent evidence supporting UMaine’s return to prominence was Sunday’s 63-45 victory over Hartford. It came in front of an announced crowd of 3,287 fans at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“Oh my gosh. There was like 3,000-something. Wow!” UMaine junior Liz Wood said after she increased her career point total to 1,006 with an 11-point effort.
Deja vu in New Jersey: Tony Bozzella, Seton Hall bringing excitement back to Walsh Gymnasium
Equally nice to read: From Jeff Metcalfe, Present, future bright for ASU women’s basketball
“Charli (Turner Thorne) is doing a great job with her team,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I am very impressed with how well they are playing. They are playing with a lot more purpose than I remember them. I think that is a real credit to her and what she’s doing.”
Was wondering who’d be lucky enough to land this Aussie: LA Sparks sign Australian center Marianna Tolo
So you think you can shoot? Or write? From Swish Appeal: A call for new writers and photographers
With a h/t to Sue: Talking about men’s and women’s sports differently
Much of what we see in the plot is not terribly surprising. There are numerous gender specific words dominating the top spaces in the women’s articles and many of the middle positions for the men. It’s nonetheless interesting to consider that gender-specific terms are even more key for the women than for the men. In other words, for female-specific words like she there’s a greater difference between the articles about men’s and women’s basketball than there is for male-specific words like he. This seems to be caused by the fact that men’s basketball is an all men’s zone with not only the players but also the other major actors like the coaches, referees, commentators, etc. being male. Hence, words for women rarely show up. In contrast, many of the coaches and other actors in women’s basketball are men.
The presence of the word girls in the top 20 is also quite striking, especially since the corresponding boys does not appear in the men’s list. We might expect to see the use of the term girls applying to the players, and it does sometimes, usually used in quotations from coaches and the players themselves,