In what was supposed to be a dramatic No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown, UConn blew the doors off of an overmatched Duke team by winning 83-61 to reassert its position as the top dog in the women's college basketball landscape.
Seriously, if Duke is the second best team in the country, then the Huskies need to start scheduling some non-conference match-ups against WNBA teams so they'll have a chance to face some actual competition before the tournament, because this game wasn't even close.
To put it into perspective, consider this. At one point early in the first half, Duke was up 4-3, but over the next 13 minutes, UConn went on a 35-11 run, forcing Duke to miss 12 straight shots at one point during that stretch. The Blue Devils did make a couple of runs late in the first half and early in the second half, but it seemed like every time Duke made a move, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was there to drop a backbreaking three to end the rally.
Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points in her first game back since injuring her elbow against Stanford, with all of those points coming from behind the arc on a career high 7-for-11 effort. Breanna Stewart led the way for the Huskies with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Stefanie Dolson added 14 points and nine rebounds of her own, Bria Hartley scored 13 points and Moriah Jefferson added nine points and seven rebounds to help lead the balanced Husky attack.
Overall, UConn shot 49 percent from the floor while outrebounding Duke 39-31. The win was the 850th of coach Geno Auriemma's career, and after the game Auriemma admitted that he didn't think this one would turn out to be such a laugher.
From the AP:
"I think I would be less than honest if I said I thought we could come in here and win by 20," Auriemma said. "Simply because we haven't played in [12 days]. We weren't sure what we were going to get from [Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck]. And I thought with Duke being at home and they've got a bunch of upperclassmen ... it would be a little bit different."
While we as UConn fans have grown accustomed to seeing the women's team blow out everybody they face, from a broader perspective tonight's win was pretty remarkable. Prior to last night, Duke had won 24 straight games at home, a streak that dated back to 2011 when the Blue Devils last hosted the Huskies at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
In fact, other than UConn, nobody has beaten Duke on its home floor in nearly six years. The last team other than UConn to beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium was Maryland on Feb. 17, 2008, and the Huskies have done it three times since then.
None of those games were close either. UConn has now won seven straight games against Duke, and the previous six were decided by an average of nearly 30 points. I don't know why it is that Duke can't seem to compete with UConn, but I imagine it must be incredibly frustrating.
Regardless, UConn is now 11-0 on the season, and with Mosqueda-Lewis and Tuck now back in the lineup, the Huskies appear to have effectively weathered the most vulnerable stretch of their schedule. Having now blown out Stanford, Maryland, Penn State and Duke, another undefeated season is starting to look like a real possibility.
The Huskies do have a tough test in their next game as they face No. 21 California in New York as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic. That game will be played on Sunday starting at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN.