UConn rolls past Prairie View A&M
Freshman Mosqueda-Lewis scores 21 points in tourney debut
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Connecticut freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had an impressive NCAA tournament debut.
Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points to help top-seeded UConn beat Prairie View A&M 83-47 on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Mosqueda-Lewis matched the school record set by Jamelle Elliott in 1993 for points by a Huskies player in her first tournament game.
Bria Hartley added 18 points and Stefanie Dolson had all 15 of her points in the first half for the Huskies (30-4), who will face eighth-seeded Kansas State in the second round Monday night. The Wildcats beat Princeton 67-64.
The Huskies hadn’t played since winning the Big East championship game March 6. They showed little rust on offense, but took a half to get back to playing superior defense. Connecticut leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up just under 46 points per game.
Latia Williams scored 20 points to lead 16th-seeded Prairie View (17-16).
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UConn led 46-32 at halftime before scoring 26 of the next 32 points to break the game open. Mosqueda-Lewis had 11 points and Hartley nine during the burst.
The Huskies led by as many as 37 and held the Lady Panthers to just 15 points in the second half.
UConn scored the game’s first eight points and looked poised for another first-round blowout. Since winning the first of their seven national championships in 1995, the Huskies have won their first-round games by an average of 48 points.
The Lady Panthers refused to go away quietly in the first half.
After they missed their first five shots, Jeanette Jackson got Prairie View on the board, banking in a 3-pointer from 30 feet as the shot clock was expiring. That seemed to loosen up the Lady Panthers, who played the Huskies nearly even for the rest of the half.
Trailing by 13, Prairie View cut its deficit to eight. UConn then scored 11 of the next 13 points, including five by Mosqueda-Lewis to push the lead up to 29-12.
The Lady Panthers then started hitting shots from all over the court to trail only 46-32 at the break. It was a much better showing than last season in the NCAA tournament when Prairie View lost to Baylor 66-30. The Lady Panthers scored just eight points in the first half of that game to set an NCAA tournament record for futility.
After playing 17 minutes in the first half, Tiffany Hayes sat out the second half. The senior guard had been sidelined a few days with a stress injury in her right foot. She hadn’t practiced until Thursday, but had gone the last two days.
This is the Huskies’ 24th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and they’ve made it to at least the regional semifinals the last 18 years, including winning seven national championships.
Prairie View A&M was making its fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament in the past six seasons. The Lady Panthers are still looking for the school’s first victory.