The results on Wednesday night weren't much different than the first time UConn and Memphis met 18 days before. This time, the Huskies won 83-49 (the final in the first matchup: 90-49) and moved to 20-0 on the season, the eighth time in school history the team has won its first 20 games.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the way with 21 points, including 5-of-10 from behind the arc, and Bria Hartley added 20 points. Breanna Stewart went for 16 points and nine rebounds, and Stefanie Dolson had 12 and 10. UConn also forced 20 turnovers and blocked six shots. Basically, it was the latest blowout win in a season that has been full of them.
For Mosqueda-Lewis, it was a chance to regain her scoring form. After managing just 12 points in the previous two games, she broke out against Memphis. But she's more than a scorer, and coach Geno Auriemma sat her down in the first half as a reminder.
“When she came out in the first half, my message was … if you are not careful and you are a really good shooter, that becomes who you are and you start to identify yourself with that … that’s dangerous because when they are not going in you’ve got no identity," Auriemma said. "I was trying to remind her again that there is a lot more to the game then shooting the ball. The more you get involved, the more things you do, the closer you will get to getting back to who you are.”
And after the break, Auriemma was pleased with the way Mosqueda-Lewis was playing.
“I thought in the second half she was more like what we’ve come to expect from her," he said. "I think you can tell a lot also by the way she got involved rebounding the ball in the game. In the second half, she was involved in the game. When you get involved in the game, your shots tend to go in too. She is not there yet, but when your shots starts to go … you're getting closer.”
These are good problems to have, of course. The Huskies are fine-tuning their game as the conference and NCAA Tournaments approach while just about everyone else seems to still be working out the kinks.
"UConn is the best team in the country," Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin said afterward. "You don't go into your locker room, at this stage and bang your hand on the chalkboard and say 'We're going to beat UConn.' That might sound stupid at this stage, but we have to talk about growing into this level of competition. We talked about competing for every rebound and we got out-rebounded by one, so I think largely our players did that. The other thing I asked them to do was take care of the ball and limit our turnovers to 14. As we know, we didn't, and that's the difference. We talk about growing into this level of competition and when you are talking about a team like UConn, unless you are a program that has been at an elite level, then you have to talk about growing into this and not being naive about what this level is."
Next up: UConn hosts USF this Sunday at noon.