Uncasville, Conn. – The UConn women’s basketball team opened the American Athletic Conference postseason play with another rout. The No. 1 Huskies defeated eighth-seeded Cincinnati 72-42 in the quarterfinals at Mohegan Sun Arena. They will face fourth-seeded Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.
In front of a 7,332 partisan fans, the Huskies played uncharacteristically sloppy. As a team, they only assisted on 12 baskets, had 15 turnovers, and shot 25% from three-point range. Perhaps it can be attributed to the fact they were playing for the first time since last Monday or it was the first time playing at Mohegan Sun, which is located in southeastern Connecticut.
However, there were many positives to this game. The Huskies did win by 30 points and held the Bearcats to 32% shooting. Four starters scored in double figures. Breanna Stewart, the American Player of the Year, scored a game-high 22 points. She was nine for nine from the foul line.
Stefanie Dolson added 10 points and nine rebounds, while Bria Hartley scored 17 points and added five assists, but had five turnovers. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis struggled shooting again going four for 10 from the field, but ended with 12 points.
UConn (32-0) will play Rutgers (22-8) on Sunday at 1pm on ESPNU in the semifinals. The Scarlet Knights came from behind to defeat SMU 68-49. Guards Kahleah Copper scored 22 points and AAC Freshman of the Year Tyler Scaife added 18 points for Rutgers.
The UConn backcourt will be challenged to defend these two players on Sunday. In addition, the Huskies must be focused and not turnover the ball. Rutgers pressed SMU throughout the second half to take control of the game. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said “that it is do or die” and she will do everything in her power to help her team advance to the American final on Monday night and secure an NCAA tournament bid.
Hartley and Moriah Jefferson must pass the ball up court to see Stewart and Dolson in transition. If they do that, they will win in ease. If they don’t, Rutgers will press and then drop into a zone and pack it in to force the Huskies to make outside shots.
The Huskies defeated the Scarlet Knights twice this season. Most recently, UConn won last weekend 72-35. Defensively, the Huskies held Rutgers to their lowest scoring output of the season.
UConn advanced to a conference semifinal for the 26th time. They are 23-2 in the conference semifinals.
Louisville and South Florida will meet in the second semifinal on Sunday at 3pm (ESPNU). Both teams won in Saturday evening blowouts.
Former UConn men’s basketball player Andre Drummond stopped by the UConn locker room after the game and took a picture with the team.
The American honored seven UConn players during a pre-game ceremony before the game. Soniya Chong was honored for making the All-Freshmen Team; Mosqueda-Lewis and Kia Stokes were honored for making the Second Team All-Conference; Dolson, Hartley, Jefferson and Stewart were honored for making the First Team All-Conference. Dolson received her Sportsmanship Award and Defensive Player of the Year trophies. Stewart received her Player of the Year Award and Geno Auriemma received his Coach of the Year Award.