Rolling in Memphis
Memphis, Tenn. - Top-ranked UConn has traveled so much and played in enough different gyms over the past five games that it's tough getting into a rhythm.
The Huskies were only slowed down for a few minutes in their first visit to Memphis.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points, and UConn overcame a slow start in routing Memphis 90-49 on Saturday in their first game against one of their new rivals in the American Athletic Conference.
"It's been a long trip to say the least, and I'm really, really thrilled with the way we handled the entire trip and especially today," Auriemma said with four of the past five games away from home. "We had a lot of great moments today."
With the eight-time national champions coming to town, Memphis scheduled this game as part of a doubleheader with the Tigers men's team in the FedExForum, home to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
Fans paying for that morning tipoff got to stick around and watch the women play for free with nearly 7,000 taking advantage of the chance.
Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin called it a great day for the city with a display of basketball seldom seen.
"UConn is a great basketball team, and they've got a lot of great talent on the floor," McFerrin said. "I told our players before the game we've got to grow from this game and we've got to grow up. There'll be a lot of positive things we can take from this in spite of some of the things that happened on the floor today."
With the Huskies now going to a handful of new towns in conference play, Auriemma said he talked to his team about how plenty of people will be seeing them for the first time in person.
"We probably made some new fans tonight that became UConn fans, and Memphis probably made a few fans tonight," Auriemma said.
Huskies sophomore forward Morgan Tuck said being ambassadors makes players appreciate UConn more since they're used to playing in front of a packed gym at home.
"When we go around to other places like here you realize women's basketball isn't that big of a deal in a lot of places," Tuck said.
Breanna Stewart added 17 points for UConn (15-0, 3-0). Bria Hartley had 13, and Stefanie Dolson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Mosqueda-Lewis was 5 of 10 on 3-point attempts and added six rebounds and four assists.
Ariel Hearn scored 20 points for Memphis (7-7, 0-2), and Pa'Sonna Hope had 11.
This was just the ninth time Memphis has played the nation's No. 1 team and first since 1999, when the Tigers faced Tennessee. Memphis fell to 1-8 against top-ranked opponents, with its lone win back on Feb. 11, 1984, over Louisiana Tech.
The Tigers even had a couple of early leads, the last at 13-10, and trailed only 18-16 midway through the first half on a free throw by Hearn.
"I thought we started really bad," Hartley said. "We started a little flat, so we had to come out and just kind of improve. Our defense was flat, so we just continued into our offense. We picked it up a little bit."
But the Huskies have won 21 straight since the start of the last NCAA tournament, and they showed off their much more talented roster by outshooting Memphis 53.6 percent to 30.8 percent and forcing the Tigers into 19 turnovers that they turned into 34 points.
UConn finished the half on a 32-7 run, with Hartley scoring nine during that stretch. Mosqueda-Lewis hit her fourth 3-pointer just before halftime for a 50-23 lead. It was a nice game for the forward in her fifth game back after missing eight with a bruised nerve in her right elbow.
Auriemma said it was important for Mosqueda-Lewis to get off to a good start offensively.
"She was more aggressive at everything, more looking for opportunities to score, more looking to rebound the ball more and get inside more to make a couple plays," Auriemma said. "It's not easy coming back from not playing ... Little by little, we're starting to see the Kaleena we're used to seeing."
The Huskies have been beating opponents by an average of 37.4 points per game, best in the nation. They pushed their lead to as big as 41 with the final bucket.
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