Sep 4, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - Anytime a player can find her name on the same statistical list as Maya Moore, it's usually a good indicator that she must have done something pretty special. For University of Connecticut junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, it is becoming a familiar sight to see her name in the record books right below the legendary forward.
Mosqueda-Lewis became the 37th member of UConn's 1,000 point club in 2012-13, en route to a 670 point campaign, which ranks eighth in program history. Just two other sophomores, Kerry Bascom (656) and Moore (754), have ever scored over 600 points in a season. She set a program record with 118 three-pointers, blowing away Wendy Davis' record of 107, which stood for 21 years. Her 16.3 points per game average ranks fifth all-time in Connecticut history, just three points behind the leader, Moore. There are only five other Huskies in history who have more three pointers than Mosqueda-Lewis (211), and they have all played at least 42 more games than her in their careerIs s. If she were to hit three pointers at the same rate for the next two seasons, she would shatter the current all-time record by over 100 buckets.
It's been established that Mosqueda-Lewis is a special talent. In fact, the Anaheim Hills, Calif. native seems like she is only getting better. Just months after the Huskies' national championship parade, she celebrated another victory, earning her fourth gold medal in the World University Games for Team USA. She scored fifteen points in the gold medal game, trailing only her teammate, Bria Hartley, who scored 17.
"It's really one of the best opportunities I've ever had playing basketball," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Going out there and playing with best girls from around the country, including my teammate, Bria, was awesome. It was nice to have someone that I was comfortable playing with out there."
The junior has become deadly from beyond the arc, finishing first in the nation with a .492 shooting percentage from deep. Only Sue Bird (.497) has ever finished a season for UConn with a higher percentage. It was obvious that Mosqueda-Lewis was going to be a unique player when she burst onto the scene in 2011-12, finishing with the third most three-pointers in a single season (93), topping Diana Taurasi's best season of 92.
"I think I can go further," she said on her long range game. "There are a lot of shots that I missed last year that I should have made. I can do a lot better. There's more work to be done."
The 2012-13 WBCA/State Farm All-American didn't slow down in the postseason, finishing with 16.7 points per game and a .483 shooting percentage from the floor. In UConn's nine postseason games, she hit 12 of her 13 free throw attempts. Her teammates were impressed by her numbers this season but don't think we've seen all Mosqueda-Lewis has to offer.
"I think she'll definitely improve," said Hartley. I think she's one of those players that can do anything. She has that rare type of versatility to be great. The sky is the limit for her."
Mosqueda-Lewis' defense has been knocked at certain points over the past two seasons, but towards the end of the season it was clear that she had found her niche on the defensive end. She averaged 6.3 rebounds for the season, including a career-high fifteen against then No. 1 Baylor in early February. In the NCAA Tournament, she pulled down 33 rebounds for the Huskies in their six games.
"I think that each year I got a little bit better on defense. It's going to be different this year. Defense is something you can always improve on. I think it starts with having the right mentality and when you have that the actions become easier."
She understands that opposing defenses will be locking in on her to limit her opportunities, but sees it as a chance for her to help get her teammates involved in the game. That, she says, is part of being a leader on the team.
"Each of the seniors really gave us something that got us to the championship. I take a lot of responsibility for what happens with the team this year. I want to help Stef and Bria as much as I can. I feel like my leadership has to be upped a little bit this year. I'm not so much concerned about my numbers."
Humility is a key in leading a team, and Mosqueda-Lewis never misses an opportunity to credit her teammates for making her better. But with the national spotlight once again centered on UConn basketball, it's hard for her not to take a moment to reflect on how special her first two years in Storrs have been.
"It's awesome," she said on being compared to Moore. "Anyone that knows anything about women's basketball knows about Maya Moore. She's making her mark in history. To be second to her in a few categories, that feels pretty great to me."
The future is bright for the California native, and if she keeps playing the way she has over the past two years, it might soon be her name, too, that comes to mind when fans think about Connecticut's all-time greats.