Feb. 26, 2013
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Breanna Stewart hopes she's rounding back into form at just the right time for No. 3 Connecticut.
The star freshman scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots in helping UConn (26-2, 13-1 Big East) close out its home schedule with a 76-36 rout of Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Stewart has 31 points in her last two games after scoring just 43 over the Huskies first six games in February. That included a scoreless night in the Huskies home loss to top-ranked Baylor just over a week ago.
"I'm trying to make a change, because I didn't like how I played in those other games," she said. "Now I'm just working hard."
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Huskies and Stefanie Dolson added 14 points.
But coach Geno Auriemma said if UConn has a shot at catching No. 2 Notre Dame for at least a share of the Big East regular-season title, Stewart must be a factor. UConn travels to South Florida on Saturday, before Monday's regular season finale in South Bend.
"If Stewie goes into the weekend confident and feeling good about herself and stays aggressive, then she'll help us win both those games," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "If she doesn't, then we're going to struggle."
Brianna Kiesel had 11 points to lead Pittsburgh (9-18, 0-14), which is just two losses away from its second consecutive winless season in the Big East. Asia Logan added 10 points.
The win was the 28th straight for the Huskies over Pitt, a team they haven't lost to in 20 years.
The Huskies 40-point win means they have outscored opponents by 999 points this season.
Dolson, who also had seven rebounds, has now scored in double figures in nine straight games. Kelly Faris came within a point of a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. She needs just five rebounds to join Maya Moore as the only players in program history to finish her career with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 steals.
She finished with four steals and three assists against the Panthers.
"It's hard for me to get really excited about statistics and stuff," she said.
Faris was more concerned that Pittsburgh actually led early, 4-2 on a pair of buckets from Brianna Kiesel, and 8-7 after Asia Logan hit a jumper 6 minutes into the game.
"It's frustrating," Faris said. "For this program it's not about a win or a loss, it's about how the win comes."
UConn, which missed seven of its first eight shots from the field, took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from freshman Moriah Jefferson.
That started a 26-3 run that gave UConn control of the game. The Huskies held Pittsburgh without a field goal for the final 9:26 of the first half and went into the break leading 37-13.
Pittsburgh has now lost 13 games in a row and 34 consecutive games in regular-season Big East play.
But Pittsburgh coach Agnus Beranato said the team is improving and she tries to take something positive out of every game.
"You know Connecticut played Stanford when they were No. 1 in the country and (Stanford) only scored 13 points at halftime," she said. "So I just kept saying, `Dear God, can we get 13, and we got 13, and that's what Stanford got."
Logan and Kiesel were the only players to score for Pittsburgh in the first half. The Panthers made just five of their 27 shots, allowing UConn to pull away.
UConn stretched the throughout the second half, going up by 30 points, 62-30 on a 3-pointer by Mosqueda-Lewis.
The Huskies dominated the boards, outrebounding Pittsburgh 49 to 29.
Auriemma now has 401 Big East wins, and is only the second coach all-time to win 400 games in a single conference, along with Stanford's Tara VanDerveer.
Connecticut finishes 13-2 at home this season, 7-1 in Hartford and 6-1 in Storrs. The Huskies lost on campus to No. 2 Notre Dame and at the XL Center to No. 1 Baylor.
The Huskies were coming off a 60-point win over Seton Hall, and came into the game having outscored opponents by an average of more than 35 points a game this season.
But Mosqueda-Lewis said they know they have to get better to reach their next goals, winning the regular-season conference title, the tournament title and a national title.
"It's still in progress right now," she said. "We've got two more games until regular season is over and three more practices just about, and we're going to use every single one of them to get ourselves to that point."