No. 3 UConn turns to its defense to rout Villanova

Hartford - This is perhaps the first time in the history of basketball that the following sentence could be written:

"They went 7 minutes, 38 seconds without a field goal and still led by 30."

Which is what fans of the UConn women saw Tuesday night.

The third-ranked Huskies, notable drought notwithstanding, barely viewed it as a hiccup during their 76-43 stroll over Villanova before 10,324 at the XL Center.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma wasn't even aware his team didn't make a shot from the field for that long after the game.

When the drought ended, Connecticut led 51-21.

"When you have a certain lineup on the floor that could happen," Auriemma said. "Villanova missed a lot of shots. You could say we had a lot to do with that and we did. Our defense has been good all year.

"We played really good defense and didn't score for seven minutes and it didn't hurt us. We tried to play a lot of different combinations and sometimes when you do that, the offense doesn't look too good. But a lot of times it looked great."

Indeed.

UConn made 30 of its 60 shots from the field and turned it over but nine times. Stefanie Dolson had 20 points on 8 for 11 shooting, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points, converting 5 of 6 three-point attempts.

"Stefanie and Kaleena are in a real good place," Auriemma said.

Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis combined to shoot a combined 64 percent from the floor (14-22) and few of them were layups.

UConn's defense, meanwhile, limited Villanova (16-4, 5-2 and a likely NCAA tournament team) to 28 percent shooting. UConn led 44-17 at one point.

"Not much has changed in 28 years and all the times we've played against Harry's teams," Auriemma said, alluding to Villanova coach Harry Perretta, in his 35th season. "It's the same formula all the time. Maximize possessions.

"If you are able to and put some points on the board and put some pressure on their guys to make shots," he said, "that's your best chance of beating them. Playing catchup against them, though, it's a long, long night."

Villanova lots its 11th straight to Connecticut. Perretta fell to 11-37 against the Huskies (19-1, 6-1).

Brenna Stewart had 14 points and six rebounds. UConn outrebounded Nova 48-28.

Jesse Carey led the Wildcats with nine points.

Rachel Roberts, a graduate of Mercy High School in Middletown, had four points, three rebounds and two assists.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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