Idaho's Ali Forde, left, and Connecticut's Kiah Stokes fight for a rebound in the first half of a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament in Storrs, Conn., Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Saturday, March 23, 2013 5:44 pm
UConn women rout Idaho 105-37 in NCAA first round
By PAT EATON-ROBBAssociated Press
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led six UConn players in double figures and the top-seeded Huskies routed the Vandals 105-37 on Saturday.
"We certainly got the full show," said Idaho coach Jon Newlee, whose team was making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1985.
Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 22 points, all in the first half. Morgan Tuck had 18, Moriah Jefferson chipped in 16 and Kiah Stokes scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Huskies (30-4) advanced to the second round for the 20th straight time in their 25th consecutive tournament appearance.
"Today was perfect for getting our legs back, our momentum, our confidence," said center Stefanie Dolson, who finished with 10 points. "Having everyone be a part of it was definitely a good start."
Stacey Barr had 14 points for Idaho (17-16), which was playing its second NCAA tournament game ever after upsetting Seattle for the Western Athletic Conference title.
UConn led by as many as 74 in the second half before Idaho made five 3-pointers in the last 4 minutes, four from Barr.
That kept the Huskies for setting a record for biggest margin of victory ever in an NCAA tournament game. That belongs to Tennessee which beat North Carolina A&T by 74 points in 1994.
UConn had first-round wins of 71 points over Hampton in 2000 and 72 against Long Island in 2001.
"It's kind of nice not to be put in the record book for something like that," Barr said.
Connecticut put this one away early, opening the game with a 22-3 run and holding Idaho without a basket for more than 5 minutes.
The Huskies led 58-17 at the break, and it didn't get didn't get better for the Vandals after halftime. UConn stretched the lead to 69-17 on a 3-pointer by Kelly Faris. Kiah Stokes' jumper with more than 12 minutes to go, made it 78-18. The Vandals scored their first point of the second half on a free throw with 12:31 left.
A basket by little used Heather Buck pushed the lead past 70 at 93-22.
Connecticut shot 61 percent from the floor, while holding Idaho to 14 baskets on 53 attempts (26 percent).
UConn outrebounded Idaho 45-23, and outscored the Vandals in the paint 46-8.
"We had a great experience with what top-of-the-nation basketball looks like," said Idaho forward Alyssa Charlston. "That gives us something to look at next season and going into the summer. We need to look at that. Coach was talking about how hard we need to go every single play and UConn does that every single play."
UConn played the game without one of its key post players. Freshman Breanna Stewart injured her left calf in practice on Friday, and sat out as a precaution. She is expected to be ready to play on Monday.
The Huskies are trying for a record sixth consecutive trip to the Final Four and an eighth national championship. They have won 30 games for an NCAA record eighth straight season.
The 30th win came on coach Geno Auriemma's 59th birthday. The Huskies are 8-1 when playing on that day, the lone loss coming to North Carolina State in the 1998 regional final.
UConn is a top seed for the seventh straight year. The Huskies are 21-2 in first-round games, which doesn't include the two seasons they received first-round byes.
They came in having won their last six first-round games by an average of 41 points.
The win was the 86th for the Huskies in the NCAA tournament, second only to Tennessee's 112.
Idaho, which was making only the third trip to the East Coast in program history, also lost in the first round in 1985, 74-51 to Cheryl Miller and Southern California.
This year's team lost nine of their first 20 games, but finished strong, winning 14 of their final 20, and swept through the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
"This is just the first step for us and our program and where we want to be," said Newlee. "UConn started somewhere. Just like we are now."