As we watched the first half of Monday night's second-round game between Vanderbilt and UConn, this thought crossed our mind: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis can take over a game like Maya Moore used to.
It's hardly original -- people have been talking up the similarities before KML arrived in Storrs -- but Mosqueda-Lewis has had to grow into the role, one she now seems to fully embrace. And by the time the final whistle had blown, the Huskies had cruised to another big win (this time 77-44) thanks in large part to Mosqueda-Lewis. She finished with 22 points, set the school's single-season record for made three-pointers in the process, and UConn is now headed to its 20th consecutive Sweet 16.
“She’s done that all year long,” senior Kelly Faris said afterwards. “She’s made a huge effort to make a difference and not just for herself but for all of us. It’s nothing new, really. Kaleena is just adding on to what she came in with. I’m proud of her.”
Vandy's game plan coming into Gampel wasn't all that much different than other opponents: don't be intimidated by the mystique, and then don't get overrun by the talent. The former seemed to work just fine but the latter was problematic.
“It’s really hard to do though sometimes we make it look easy,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said via SNY.com. “It’s hard with players going all over the place and it’s harder than ever to get kids to want to be on a great team because they all want to be the main guy. The players we recruit here, that’s the expectation level. That’s what they want. I don’t have to convince them that this is where you want to be. As long as we can keep bringing in those kind of players, that’s what the expectation level will be.”
It was also the last time seniors Faris, Caroline Doty and Heather Buck will play at Gampel. The Huskies are headed to Bridgeport where they'll face Maryland in the regionals.
“Senior Night was up there among my memories, as was the first game I ever played in the building my freshman season against Georgia Tech,” Doty said via the Hartford Courant. “Then there was my first ESPN game here [against Oklahoma] and the first College GameDay [for women’s basketball] we had [against Notre Dame]. There are a lot of special memories. I think of the early morning workouts and the fans that have come out over the years to support us.”
But there's work to be done. Next up: the Terps.