March 27, 2014
LINCOLN, Neb. – The top-ranked University of Connecticut women’s basketball team continues its quest for a ninth National Championship against 12th seeded BYU Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tipoff between the Huskies and Cougars is set for 4:30p.m. ET with nationally televised coverage on ESPN with Pam Ward and Carolyn Peck on the call. Fans can also tune in to the UConn IMG Network with Bob Joyce and Debbie Fiske covering all the action.
The Huskies (36-0, 18-0 The American) topped Saint Joseph’s, 91-52, on Tuesday evening in Gampel Pavilion to punch a ticket to the program’s 21st consecutive NCAA Regional. Brigham Young University (28-6, 14-4 WCC) upset Nebraska to earn a spot just its second Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history.
Series vs. BYU
Saturday’s matchup will be the third meeting between the two programs. UConn and BYU first met in the 2007-08 season and played again in the subsequent year, with the Huskies winning both games by an average of 47.5 points.
UConn in the Sweet Sixteen
As a program, the Huskies are 19-2 in Sweet Sixteens. UConn boasts an all-time NCAA record of 93-17, which marks the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.845) of any Division I women’s college basketball team. The 2014 NCAA Tournament marks Connecticut’s 26th consecutive berth in the big dance.
A Pair of Triple-Doubles
Only three players in program history have recorded triple-doubles and two of those historic feats have come during this 2013-14 campaign. In November, Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) recorded UConn’s second triple-double against Oregon and the first since Laura Lishness first recorded on in 1989. On Tuesday against Saint Joseph’s, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anahiem Hills, Calif.) posted 20 points, ten rebounds and ten assists to own UConn’s third triple-double and just the 14th in NCAA Tournament history. Her 10 assists not only represent a career-high but also mark the second-highest number of dimes a Husky has posted in the NCAA Tournament, behind Sue Bird’s 11 assists against Old Dominion in 2002.
Leading the Pack
Just prior to the NCAA Tournament, th 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.
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, 101 blocks and pulls down an average 8.3 rebounds per contest. Stewart has been named a finalist for the Naismith and Wade Trophies and was recognized as 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 27 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 1 and posted 20 20-plus performances. On the season, Stewart has eleven double-doubles and has recorded three or more blocks in 18 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.
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 league in field goal percentage (58.3). She currently boasts a team-high 176 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 2.8, 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.