They're called exhibition games for a reason. Friday night, the No. 2 ranked UConn women put on an exhibition against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, cruising to a 105-28 victory thanks to sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' 24 points and nine rebounds -- both game highs.
The Huskies led 50-13 at the break before outscoring IUP 55-15 over the final 20 minutes. They held the Crimson Hawks to 21 percent from the field (and 19 percent from behind the arc), and forced 28 turnovers that translated to 43 UConn points.
The Huskies were supposed to dominate, of course, and not even a 77-point margin of victory is a particularly earth-shattering result. The real storyline: the freshmen class of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, who comprised three of the country's best high school players a year ago. Well, they didn't disappoint in their debut.
Stewart and Tuck scored 15 points each (and 8 and 5 rebounds, respectively), while Jefferson added 10 (and 4 rebounds). And when you include the seven points from sophomore Brianna Banks, the sophomores and freshmen accounted for 68 percent of the Huskies' points. Not too shabby.
"One of the things that I said in the locker room after the game is part of being a really good team and a good player is that mentally you are a smart player and smart players then make smart teams," coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards. "And smart teams are hard to play against if they are talented, then I looked around the room and I said the challenge for our team is six of our players are freshmen or sophomores, they don’t even know what they don’t know.
"They have to work that much harder to become really smart down the road to win the games were going to have to win against the really, really good teams. From a physical standpoint, the young guys have talent and ability to play. Our challenge from a coaching standpoint is to make sure we keep working on getting them to be smarter than their age. That is the key. Making sure they don’t play like freshmen and sophomores come February, March, and April.” Another challenge: managing life without All-American guard Bria Hartley. She's recovering from a sprained left ankle and will be out indefinitely in the meantime.
"That's what happens when you are stubborn," Auriemma said last Thursday according to the Hartford Courant. "She could have been back a lot sooner, but she never gives on that she's hurting. She wants to play. Now instead of working her way back in, she'll be spending the two weeks she tried to prove how tough she is probably sitting out. And as far as I am concerned, I don't care if she's out until January. I just want her 100 percent, to the point we're not worried about it for the remainder of the season."