UCONN IN ROUT
No. 2 Duke prepped to face the nation’s No.1 women’s basketball team and an energetic sold-out crowd packed Cameron Indoor Stadium to support the Blue Devils.
The game’s beginning, though, looked nothing like a showdown between the top two teams in the sport and the result was all too painfully familiar for Duke.
Top-ranked Connecticut played flawless basketball for a 10-minute stretch of the first half, building a 23-point lead and rolling over the second-ranked Blue Devils 83-61 on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do defensively,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We didn’t rebound the way we needed to rebound and we showed little patience on offense at critical times and it cost us.”
That has happened regularly for Duke against UConn.
The defending national champion Huskies (11-0) beat Duke (10-1) for the seventh consecutive time and dealt the Blue Devils another harsh lesson. Even while making four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, the Blue Devils have yet to play UConn to a final margin closer than 16 points.
Over Duke’s last six games with UConn, dating to 2010, the Huskies have won by 30 or more points four times.
“There were lapses in our intensity and our energy throughout the game,” Duke senior forward Haley Peters said. “We do that in other games but we can get away with it in those games. We’ve haven’t pushed each other enough in that, in not letting that happen no matter who we’re playing. When you do that against this team, you are going to put yourself in a hole.”
The stretch of the game that did Duke in began five minutes into play with the Huskies up 12-11. Duke missed 12 consecutive shots, going 8:30 between made field goals, to fall behind 28-12.
“There was a stretch in the first half where we didn’t do anything wrong for about 10 minutes and we got the lead up pretty good,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, whose team’s largest first-half lead was 38-15.
Breanna Stewart, UConn’s 6-4 sophomore forward, was outscoring Duke at that point. She finished with a game-high 24 points.
“I thought (Stewart) showed why she was the best player in the country,” McCallie said.
Duke made only five of its first 24 shots, which McCallie chalked up to her team being its own worst enemy.
“Horrible shot selection,” she said. “Chucking up shots.”
When Stewart wasn’t hurting the Blue Devils, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was — in somewhat unexpected fashion.
In her first game back from injury, Mosqueda-Lewis came off the bench to score 21 points by making 7 of 11 3-pointers.
“The only thing I’ve been doing (in practice) is shooting basically,” she said, “so I was hoping I was going to make a couple tonight.”
She made more than a couple as she helped quell Duke’s futile attempt to get back into the game. The Blue Devils finally found their groove on offense to cut the deficit to 41-26 at halftime.
With 7:59 to play in the game, Duke had sliced UConn’s lead to 65-52. A rare Mosqueda-Lewis miss gave the Blue Devils hope, but Stewart ran down the rebound. She fired it back out to an open Mosqueda-Lewis, who drilled the 3-pointer to break Duke’s spirit.
That started an 11-0 Huskies run that pushed their lead back over 20 points.
“We’ve got three players that are pretty unique as opposed to other teams in this country so we are able to respond,” Auriemma said.
In addition to Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn received a solid effort from 6-5 center Stefanie Dolson (14 points, nine rebounds, six blocked shots).
Meanwhile, Duke’s leading scorer was Chelsea Gray with 13 points. The Blue Devils shot only 41.5 percent, with that number boosted by 53.3 percent shooting in the second half long after the Huskies had built their commanding lead.
Duke attempted only five free throws, which McCallie said offered evidence of her team’s passive approach.
“We needed to be attacking and driving and creating,” she said. “It’s OK if people are blocking your shot. You have to get in there and be physical.”
Three wins over ranked teams this season showed that Duke is one of the nation’s better teams. But McCallie said this latest lopsided loss to UConn has to spur improvement.
“We have to own up and grow and change,” McCallie said. “We have to use this. It’s very disappointing because we didn’t fight throughout. It wasn’t the consistent fight that we wanted as a team.”
|No. 1 UCONN 83, No. 2 DUKE 61|
Percentages: FG .492, FT .846.
3-Point Goals: 12-24, .500 (Mosqueda-Lewis 7-11, Stewart 2-4, Dolson 1-1, Jefferson 1-3, Hartley 1-4, Banks 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 6 (Stewart 3, Dolson 2, Banks).
Turnovers: 14 (Stewart 6, Dolson 3, Hartley 2, Tuck 2, Jefferson).
Steals: 8 (Jefferson 3, Dolson 2, Hartley 2, Stewart).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .415, FT .600.
3-Point Goals: 4-18, .222 (Jones 2-6, Wells 1-1, Peters 1-5, McCravey-Cooper 0-1, Gray 0-2, Liston 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Williams, Gray).
Turnovers: 13 (Williams 4, Peters 2, Chidom 2, Liston 2, Jones, Gray, Jackson).
Steals: 7 (Peters 3, Gray 2, Wells, Williams).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Dee Kantner, Denise Brooks, Maj Forsberg.