No. 4 UConn tops Pacific for 85th home win in rowBy PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—Connecticut’s freshmen played their first game on Sunday. They truly arrived for the Huskies on Tuesday night.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis came off the bench to score 25 points and Briana Banks added 12, including eight in less than a minute to spark a 30-2 run that broke open a close game early and helped the Huskies rout Pacific 112-53.
“When we get in there we want to be that spark,” said Mosqueda-Lewis. “We want to be the game changers and we do take a lot of pride in being able to change the game if something is going wrong.”
Four other players scored in double figures for the Huskies (2-0), who have won an NCAA-record 85 consecutive home games and 118 of their last 120 games at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn shot 71 percent and led 68-25 at halftime, tying a school record for points in a half.
The run-and-gun style is something coach Geno Auriemma expects to use a lot this season, playing to the strengths of a young team that often has four guards on the floor at the same time.
“That’s what we’re trying to do is basically create enough possessions to overcome whatever we don’t know at this point in time and just play,” he said. “We’ve got four ball handlers out there most of the time and it’s good when we touch the ball that we can convert defense to offense pretty quickly.”
Erica McKenzie had 16 points and Kendall Rodriguez scored 12 for Pacific (0-2), which never led.
“I think we can take a lot from this game, and just really learn from it,” said McKenzie. “It helps us build for our next games and our season. We played one of the best teams in the nation. You can learn from that.”
The Tigers were the last team to lose to Connecticut a year ago during the Huskies’ record-setting 90-game win streak. UConn lost at Stanford to break that streak and the Huskies host the No. 5 Cardinal in their next home game on Monday night.
Connecticut jumped to an 11-6 lead amid some sloppy play, committing three fouls and three turnovers in the first 5 minutes.
That prompted Auriemma to sub in all three of his freshmen, a move that paid immediate dividends. They scored 13 straight points, including the eight consecutive by Banks to spark the big run.
“I just came out and tried to bring as much intensity as I could,” she said. “Because right before the game coach was telling us we couldn’t have any letdowns once the subs come in, so I kind of took that to heart.”
That run also included the first two 3-pointers of Mosqueda-Lewis’ college career. The sharp-shooting forward went 0 for 7 in her debut against Holy Cross. She hit her first four shots in this one, going 10 of 12 from the floor, including 5 of 6 from behind the arc.
The Huskies hit 10 of their 12 shots during the run and forced 10 turnovers. All 11 Huskies players got into the game and scored before intermission.
Bria Hartley had 18 points, Caroline Doty had 11 points and six assists, and Tiffany Hayes and Kelly Faris had 11 points apiece.
Pacific turned the ball over 26 times, 17 in the first half, and UConn had 41 points off turnovers.
“We have a lot of really great guards,” Hartley said. “So, we’re able to get out in transition if we play pressure defense the whole time, and get steals and push.”
UConn’s 68 first-half points tied the record set Jan. 6, 1998, in a 126-48 win over Providence. The Huskies took the foot off the gas pedal a bit in the second half, reaching 100 points with just over 6 minutes left to go up 100-46.
The game was the 999th in Pacific’s history but just the team’s 12th played in the Eastern time zone. This was the Tigers’ first trip to the East Coast since 2009.
UConn won last year’s meeting 85-42 in Stockton, Calif., before falling at Stanford. The Huskies face the No. 5 Cardinal on Nov. 21 in Hartford with the home winning streak on the line.
The last time the Huskies lost at home was in the 2007 Big East championship game to Rutgers. The NCAA counts UConn’s postseason games played in Storrs and Hartford as home games.