No. 1 UConn women rout No. 2 Duke 83-61

CorrespondentDecember 17, 2013 

— Duke would have needed 40 great minutes to finally get a victory against Connecticut.

Instead the Blue Devils’ women’s basketball team only played well in fits and starts Tuesday night.

Breanna Stewart led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 21 points on seven 3-pointers in her first game in five weeks as No. 1 Connecticut drubbed No. 2 Duke 83-61 in the Jimmy V Classic game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The win was the 17th straight for the defending NCAA champion Huskies, who improved to 11-0 on the season. Duke fell to 10-1.

Stefanie Dolson chipped in 14 and Bria Hartley 13 for Connecticut.

“I would be less than honest if I said I thought we would come in here and win by 20 or so,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “I thought Duke being at home – and they have a bunch of upperclassmen who have been through this a bunch of times – it would be a little bit different. But I was proud of our guys that every time Duke cut it to (13) somebody made a big play.”

Chelsea Gray led Duke with 13 points, followed by Haley Peters with 11 and Tricia Liston and Alexis Jones each with 10.

Connecticut, which leads the series with Duke 10-3, has won seven straight against the Blue Devils. Duke’s best showing in the series during that span was a 61-45 loss in Durham two seasons ago.

The game was a hard sellout with a crowd of 9,314 including several hundred vocal Connecticut fans.

“It was an interesting game from our perspective,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “But we didn’t do what we need to do defensively, we didn’t rebound the way we needed to rebound and we showed little patience on offense at critical times. That cost us during that run they had in the first half.

“(Stewart) is the best player in the country and she showed that, and (Mosqueda-Lewis) enjoyed her first game back.”

Connecticut’s three wins in Durham are Duke’s only losses in its past 84 home games. The result snapped Duke’s 24-game home-court win streak.

Both Connecticut players who have been sitting out eight games with injuries suited up and played in the first half. Mosqueda-Lewis, who had an elbow injury, entered the game with 14:59 left in the first half with the Huskies up 14-11. Morgan Tuck, who had been out also eight games after knee surgery, followed at 11:58 with Connecticut leading 20-11.

“The only thing I had been doing was shooting, really,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I was hoping I’d make a couple tonight. I was just trying to go out there and help my team in any kind of way, whether it was good defense or hitting a couple of shots.”

Connecticut shot 49.2 percent to Duke’s 41.5, won the rebound battle 39-31 and had 14 turnovers to Duke’s 13.

“There were lapses in our intensity and our energy throughout the game,” Peters said. “We do that in other games but we can get away with it in those games. We haven’t pushed each other enough in that, in not letting that happen no matter who we’re playing. When you do that against this team, you’re going to put yourself in a hole.”

Connecticut led 41-26 at halftime, and the Blue Devils never cut the lead to single digits after the break.

Stewart, who scored 12 of the Huskies’ first 20 points to help them to an early nine-point lead, finishing the first half with 15 points and three blocked shots. Gray led Duke with seven at the break.

“When we started executing and reversing the ball and playing off each other is when our runs came,” Gray said. “We were getting good looks and open shots. Some didn’t fall. (But) we didn’t have the mental focus to get the job done. We didn’t do what we expect to do, plain and simple.”

Connecticut shot 54.8 percent in the first half including 6-for-13 outside the 3-point arc, while Duke shot 31.4 percent and was 2-for-11 on 3-pointers. Connecticut had 20 rebounds to Duke’s 18 over the first 20 minutes, with seven turnovers to Duke’s six.

Duke hosts Albany on Thursday night at 6:30. Connecticut takes on California at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday at 1:30.

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