|Post-Game Coverage ||Video Content |
|Championship Central ||Highlights |
|Box Score ||Interview with Geno Auriemma |
|Notes ||Interview with Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis |
|Quotes ||Press Conference |
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each scored 14 points and No. 3 Connecticut beat 22nd-ranked Syracuse 64-51 on Monday night in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters.
The Huskies will face top-seeded Notre Dame on Tuesday night for the title. The teams have met in the championship game six times, including the past two, and the Huskies have come away with victories in each one.
Still the Irish have had the Huskies' number like no other team. Notre Dame has won six of the past seven meetings since losing to the Huskies in the 2011 Big East title game. The teams played a thrilling triple-overtime game last Monday night. UConn had a lot of chances to pull out that victory but couldn't.
Against Syracuse, the Huskies (29-3) led by 15 at the half, but uncharacteristically couldn't pull away.
Kayla Alexander scored 14 to lead the Orange (24-7).
UConn led 24-18 midway through the first half before Mosqueda-Lewis started a 15-6 run with a 3-pointer. Her second 3 of the burst made it 32-22. Then, Stewart took over by scoring six of the next eight points. Her jumper in the lane made it 39-24 with 2:57 left in the half.
Brittney Sykes' layup 45 seconds earlier was the last basket the Orange would get for nearly 9 1/2 minutes spanning the halves.
Surprisingly, Connecticut couldn't really take advantage, only scoring seven points over that span. The Huskies kept passing up shots and turning the ball over at an alarming rate. It got so bad that at one point coach Geno Auriemma yelled at his team to "just shoot the ball."
The turnovers allowed the Orange to hang around despite the offensive drought.
Trailing 46-27, Syracuse rallied. Carmen Tyson-Thomas hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around Elashier Hall's basket. Brianna Butler's layup capped a 13-3 run and brought the Orange within nine. That's as close as they could get thanks in part because of the strong play by Stewart.
The highly touted freshman, who grew up in Syracuse, has struggled for most of the season showing brief flashes of the talent that earned her high school player of the year honors last season. In Sunday's win over DePaul, she had 21 points. A night later, she kept it going. The Huskies will need another strong effort from her against Notre Dame.
Stewart has averaged just 7.5 points against the Irish this season and made just six of her 24 shots.
Syracuse made it to the semifinals for the first time since 2002. Alexander, who matched her career high with 34 points in the second round, became the first Syracuse player to reach 2,000 points when she hit a free throw with 1:40 left. She finished the game with 2,001.
The Orange were playing in their last Big East tournament as they are headed to the ACC next season. They continued their struggles against UConn. Syracuse, which was off to its best mark after 30 games, hasn't beaten the Huskies since 1996.