March 24, 2014
STORRS, Conn. – Top-seeded UConn women’s basketball advances to the Second Round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, where it will face ninth-seeded Saint Joseph’s on March 25 at 7 p.m. ET. The matchup will be broadcasted via television on ESPNU and over the radio on the UConn IMG radio network. The winner of Tuesday night’s game will punch a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen in Lincoln, Nebraska Regional on March 29. The Huskies are 21-2 in NCAA Second Round contests.
UConn dispatched Prairie View A&M in the opening round for the second time in the last three years on Sunday night. The Huskies finished with a resounding 87-44 win over the sixteenth-seeded Panthers. Sophomore Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) led all players with 19 points and 10 rebounds in her tenth double-double game this season. Connecticut’s other four starters also logged double-digits, with Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) finishing with 16, Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas) contributed 14, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) added 13 and Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) ended her night with 11. The win improved the Huskies to 92-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. The program’s .844 NCAA Tournament games winning percentage is the all-time leader.
The Huskies will face a Saint Joseph’s squad that pulled off an upset win over No. 8 Georgia on Sunday night. The Hawks received an 18-point effort by senior guard Erin Shields to pace Saint Joseph’s to a hard-fought 67-57 victory over the Bulldogs.
The Series vs. Saint Joseph’s
UConn owns a 4-2 all-time record against St. Joseph’s, sweeping the last four meetings between the two programs. The Huskies and Hawks last squared off in 2003-04, when Connecticut posted an 87-34 win. Tuesday will be the first time the squads meet in an NCAA Tournament setting.
Leading the Pack
The Huskies completed a sweep of the Associated Press Top-25 Poll, finishing right where they started at No. 1 in the final tally on March 17. The Huskies were the unanimous choice for top dog in every poll except for one week. The stretch marks the fifth time in program history Connecticut remained the No. 1 all season long. The other Husky teams to accomplish the feat included the 1999-2000, 2001-02, 2008-09 and 2009-10 teams. All four squads saw their seasons culminate in National Championships.
Dominance in the polls reflects UConn's statistical dominance on the court this season. The squad boasts NCAA-bests in assists (21.6 per game), blocks (8.2 per game), field-goal percentage defense (30.4 average), points allowed (47.0 per game), and scoring margin (35.7 average). The Huskies also sport a team assist/turnover ratio of 1.82 and a field-goal percentage of 50.5, both of which rank second-best in the country.
Moriah on Fire
Sophomore point guard Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas) has been exceptional for the Huskies this season. One of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award and a First Team American All-Conference selection, Jefferson leads the conference in field goal percentage (57.8). She currently boasts a team-high 174 assists on the season, which ranks second-best among UConn sophomores behind Diana Taurasi's 208 from the 2001-02 season. Moreover, her stellar assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9, which ranks 12th in Division I, is on pace to shatter numbers posted by some of UConn's most accomplished point guards in their respective sophomore seasons, including Diana Taurasi (2.51 in 2001-02), Sue Bird (2.00 in 1999-2000), and Renee Montgomery (1.72 in 2006-07).
Against Prairie View A&M, Jefferson snagged five steals to mark a career-high in NCAA games. Earlier this season the sophomore registered nine steals against Memphis, falling just one shy of tying the program record for single-game thefts.
No Sophomore Slump for Stewart
American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) has been exceptional on the court this season with remarkable consistency. The 6-4 forward leads the team with 19.7 points per game, 94 blocks and pulls down an average 8.1 rebounds per contest. Stewart has been named a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate player, and was named the National Player of the Year by espnW.com. Stewart's numbers this season have been consistently impressive, as she has reached double-digits in 26 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 1 and posted 19 20-plus performances. On the season, Stewart has ten double-doubles and has recorded three or more blocks in 17 contests.
Last season Stewart posted one of the best-ever performances by a freshman in the NCAA Tournament, finishing with 104 points in five games to earn Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four. She became just the fourth freshman to earn the honor. This season, she opened the tournament with a 19-point performance.
No Place Like Home
In all-time NCAA Tournament games played in the state of Connecticut, the Huskies have amassed an impressive 46-4 record playing in the Constitution State. UConn has posted even better numbers within the friendly confines of Gampel Pavilion, recording a 33-2 mark during tournament games on their home court in Storrs.
UConn added seven blocks to its record-setting season total on Sunday night in the First Round. Kiah Stokes (Marion, Iowa) led the way with three rejections while Stewart added two. Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis added one apiece. Earlier this season the Huskies crashed through the program record of 250 set in 1995. UConn has 287 blocks on the season. The NCAA single-season record of 310 was set by Baylor in 2011-12.