South Carolina led 18-15 in the first half, and cut the lead to 10 points shortly after the break. But the reality is that UConn was in control pretty much from the opening tip to the final whistle, looking every bit the No. 1 team in the country.
When it was over, the Huskies cruised to an 87-62 victory, snapping the Gamecocks' 22-game winning streak in the process. Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis played like the nation's best shooter, draining 5 of 6 looks from beyond the arc and finishing with a game-high 23 points, while Breanna Stewart looked like the nation's best player, scoring 22 points and pulling 8 rebounds against a South Carolina defense helpless to do much about it.
Morgan Tuck added 17 points and 6 boards while point guard Moriah Jefferson went for 16 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
“South Carolina is a great team, they are hard to play against, really hard to play against, but when you get four guys playing the way those guys played," coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards, "it’s hard to play against us ... really hard, especially in the atmosphere we were able to feed off. We fed off our crowd a lot.
"In the second half, we came out up sixteen and they cut it to ten right away. I remember going to the bench at one point and Breanna Stewart said 'That’s it, they are done, that’s their run,' and that’s the way it played out. Usually Stewart doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t say anything."
Auriemma also spoke to the magnitude of the spectacle, which was arguably the biggest game in the country -- in any sport -- on Monday night.
“I tell kids all of the time when we are recruiting players this is what they want," he said. "This is the game that they want to play in, a game like this. I guess this was a slow night in the sports world because I guess this was the biggest thing on television tonight. The point of coming to Connecticut is to play in these games. Whether its January, February, March, April, it doesn’t matter, these are the games you come to Connecticut for, these are the games we practice for, games like today.”
Stewart added: “We want to play the best team in the country. If we could have a schedule where we could play the top 25, we would love to have that. We all have our own conferences, and we have to do as best we can within those conferences.”