UConn women get their sweep deep in the heart of Texas
Dallas — Breanna Stewart saw a rather odd combination in No. 1 UConn's offense early against SMU: antsy and stagnant.
The Huskies eventually figured it out.
Bria Hartley scored 25 points and Stewart had 23 highlighted by several baskets on a run that broke open a close game late in the first half of an 81-48 victory against the SMU women's basketball team Tuesday night.
"We had to settle ourselves down but at the same time, there were times we weren't moving at all," said Stewart, who also had five rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. "Just running our offense because we know it. We know we can get every shot we want."
The Huskies (29-0, 16-0 American Athletic) won their 35th straight game, halfway to the second-longest winning streak in school history. The current run is tied for the third longest streak ever at UConn.
UConn's lead was just 22-17 when the Huskies scored the last 15 points of the first half, a span that covered 4 minutes. Stewart, who scored 16 in the first half, started the decisive run with a 15-foot baseline jumper and had back-to-back layups in transition for a 30-17 lead.
"Breanna Stewart kind of took over during that stretch," SMU coach Rhonda Rompola said. "And you saw her wanting to take over the game. And when she wants to take over a game, she can take over a game."
Keena Mays scored 13 points to lead the Mustangs (16-11, 7-9).
The Huskies, who beat SMU by 61 at home earlier this month, won both games on a Texas swing by an average of 42 points, slightly higher than their average margin this season. They beat Houston 92-41 on Saturday.
UConn actually had its closest game of the season in Texas last month, beating No. 6 Baylor by 11 in Waco and snapping the Lady Bears' nation-leading 69-game home winning streak.
The Huskies also made the long trip with a short bench with Morgan Tuck out for the season with a knee injury and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis sidelined by mononucleosis.
"We're a little tired," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I think it starts to get to you, the travel and just mentally. But there's nothing you can do about it. Every other team is going through the same thing."
The Huskies' first visit to Moody Coliseum drew the largest crowd for a women's game in arena history at 4,091, and those fans were at their loudest when Mays hit a 3-pointer for get the Mustangs within 20-15.
SMU had several chances to get the deficit back to five late in the first half but missed seven shots in just three possessions. The Mustangs shot 25 percent for the game, slightly better than the season-low 20 percent from their loss at UConn.
UConn got the lead to 20 at halftime on a 3-pointer by Moriah Jefferson and two free throws from Hartley in the final minute.
"It was a weird first half," Auriemma said. "We get out to such great starts the majority of the time that when we don't, we get a little bit out of our rhythm."
Mays ended SMU's scoring drought with a layup to open the second half. She had a chance for a three-point play but missed the free throw.
Stewart and Hartley answered with consecutive buckets and Hartley later hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 55-26 lead. Hartley, who also had seven rebounds, was 5 of 8 from long range.
The Huskies took their first 30-point lead on a layup by Kiah Stokes with 11:56 to go and led by as many as 35. Stokes had a game-high 12 rebounds.
UConn's Stefanie Dolson had nine points and nine rebounds.
Akil Simpson was SMU's other double-digit scorer with 11.
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