To the nobody's surprise, Geno Auriemma's UConn Huskies (31-1) destroyed the ECU Pirates 106-56 in the American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals. They will play the winner of USF-Tulane for the championship on Monday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
After the absolute demolition, Pirates coach Heather Macy apologized for making people watch.
UConn hit a season high for points in a game, recording their highest total in a conference tournament game in their history. Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored a game-high 21 points on 8 for 10 shooting, 5 from 7 from three-point range. Moriah Jefferson added 20 points and six assists.
Most of their damage was done in the first half, where the Huskies shot a mind-blowing 77.4% from the field and taking a 62-22 lead into the locker room. The Huskies were more physical and aggressive than the Pirates, forcing their over-matched opponents to play away from their style and making them look plain bad.
"That first half, we were playing pick-up," Macy said. "The second half we were just coaching as if it was a practice."
I'Tiana Taylor scored 17 points and Jada Price added 15 points and seven rebounds for East Carolina. The Pirates finish the season with a 21-10 record and hope to continue play in the WNIT.
Geno Auriemma was looking forward to seeing how his team would respond to the challenge that ECU would bring. He knows that his team can play different styles night in and night out. They practice against it all the time.
He knew his team was playing against a really athletic, aggressive team. The Huskies just took it to the Pirates and just dominated them by forcing 19 turnovers and 11 steals. They dictated the tempo of the game.
The Huskies have advanced to the conference tournament championship for the 25th time in 27 years. That is a remarkable feat of consistency. They have yet to lose a conference game in their two-year history in the American.
There has been plenty of talk about how bad the American is as a conference because of these lopsided games. That might be unfair to our opponents. UConn is just that good and they have done this to many opponents on the national stage and in the old Big East throughout the years.
"What is the difference if you win every game by 40 or if you win every game," Auriemma said.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Sunday was the second time that Duke or North Carolina was not in the ACC final since 1993. Notre Dame won their second consecutive tournament title and has won every game except one game since they joined that league two years.
"Take us and USF out of the league and the AAC is a very competitive league. This year if you lost the last game of the season and you were in third place, you dropped to sixth," Auriemma said. "I am sure the ACC was a competitive league before Notre Dame got there."
It will take time for the rest of the league to catch up the style of play of the Huskies and Bulls and the ensuing national respect. USF learned to be competitive in the old Big East, just like Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, St. John's, Louisville, etc.
However, if the Huskies continue to make shots and out-hustle their opponents, there will be no stopping them anytime soon.