Earlier this month, Connecticut dominated another ranked opponent with their pressure defense. They shut down No. 4 Louisville's offensive threats during long stretches of the game and were able to make easy baskets on the offensive end. It was great overall performance by the top team in the nation.
Late in the first half of that game, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis went down with an elbow injury. It was a repeat of the Stanford game from earlier in the season. It wasin the same exact spot, but this time it was the other arm.
It may have seemed that the UConn women's basketball team might have met their match. Their toughest opponent this season has been the injury bug.
But Mosqueda-Lewis came back during the second half and Husky nation was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
The Huskies won the game 81-64 and took sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference.
Then it happened...
Last Friday it was announced that Mosqueda-Lewis was diagnosed with mononucleosis. She will be out three to six weeks- which means most likely the rest of the regular season and possibly the AAC tournament.
The Huskies are down to six healthy scholarship players; there may be a seventh available. The status of Brianna Banks, who is recovering from an ankle injury and has not played in the last few games, is still questionable.
Should Geno Auriemma be worried?
The Huskies had to deal with a short bench for most of this season. They survived during their toughest stretch of the early part of season by defeating top ten opponents Maryland and Penn State on the road.
And remember, the Huskies have the best player in the country in Breanna Stewart. Auriemma has given her the green light- she has the capability of taking over any game and the ability to score 50 on any given night. Stewart had 24 points, six assists and 10 rebounds against Louisville.
They also have Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley. And don't forget Moriah Jefferson has been getting better and better as the season has gone on. But this is a huge opportunity for Kia Stokes and Soniya Chong to get some quality minutes.
Nobody in the country is crying for the Huskies. However, what worries the coaching staff is foul trouble or additional injuries. One other factor has to be fatigue. This may determine the fate of this team down the stretch.
After having an entire week off, the Huskies are currently playing four games in nine days. The opponents won't be the obstacle; it is going to be the travel this late in the season. The travel will take them over 6,000 miles during this stretch - to Florida, Connecticut, Texas and back.
UConn (26-0 overall, 13-0 AAC) started this crazy road trip on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, Fla. against the South Florida Bulls (13-11, 8-5). They won in a rout 63-38, but were held to a season low in points scored.
In front of the largest crowd this season to watch a college game in the Sun Dome (6,615), the Huskies struggled offensively without Mosqueda-Lewis. Four players scored in double figures and Kia Stokes came off the bench and scored only three points.
Hartley led the Huskies with 18 points. Stewart and Dolson each had 15 points and eight rebounds. Jefferson had 12 points and eight assists. Chong making her first career start did not score. She was 0-3 from the field, including 0-2 from the three point line.
The Huskies are back in Connecticut tonight at the XL Center to take on Central Florida (10-15, 3-11). The game is at 7pm on SNY and ESPN3.com.
The Huskies beat UCF, 77-49, on New Year's Day in Orlando, Fla. Dolson was unstoppable, scoring a season high 25 points. During this game, the Huskies made it a priority to get the ball in the post, which they were able to do at will, scoring 48 points in the paint. Expect a similar game plan on Wednesday.
The Knights are coming off a 40 point loss to Rutgers and have lost three of their last four games. They will also be without Briahanna Jackson who left the team in early January. Jackson was the Conference USA freshmen of the year last year and led her team against UConn with a game high 28 points in the first match-up.
After this game, UConn will continue their road trip to Texas traveling to Houston (5-20, 1-13) on Saturday and then SMU (15-10, 6-8) next Tuesday.