Stewart steals the show
Philadelphia - When Breanna Stewart finds her groove, it's tough to stop UConn's top star.
Just ask Temple.
Stewart scored a career-high 37 points, Bria Hartley had 16 points and 11 assists, and No. 1 UConn beat Temple 93-56 on Tuesday night for its 28th straight win.
The Huskies (22-0, 9-0 American Athletic Conference) shook off a rare early challenge to turn yet another game into a romp. Stewart made 10 of 11 shots in the first half and scored 25 points to thwart any hope the Owls had for the upset.
"She's in that frame of mind right now where every time she touches the ball, every time it leaves her hand, I'm surprised it doesn't go in," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Stewart made 15 of 19 shots overall and 3 of 5 3-pointers. She did it all in 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time to rest and think about what's ahead.
"I want to be the best player in the country," she said. "I want to obviously win a national championship, and I think the goal is winning a national championship every year, not just one. I'm going to be here for four years."
UConn center Stefanie Dolson had 11 points and 13 rebounds when she limped off the court with 8 minutes left. She had her right foot taped and did not return. Auriemma said Dolson was fine and would have returned, if needed.
For about 10 minutes, there was a hint of a surprise at refurbished McGonigle Hall, the home floor for some of Hall of Fame coach John Chaney's greatest teams.
The Owls turned a 22-15 hole into a 23-22 lead with 7:55 left in the first half. Taylor Robinson put Temple in front with an inside bucket that put the crowd on its feet.
Not for long.
Stewart put UConn back on top with a layup that sparked a 20-5 run. Stewart really got on a roll during the decisive stretch, scoring an easy bucket off Hartley's steal, a layup, and a 3-pointer for a 47-31 lead.
"Any time you have a great player like that, you have a chance to have a great team," Auriemma said. "But we've got a lot to work on still."
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who scored 18 points, hit a basket at the halftime buzzer that lifted the Huskies to a 49-32 lead. The Huskies missed 8 of 10 3-pointers and still shot 61 percent from the floor (18 of 23 inside the arc). Hartley, who had scored at least 30 points in each of her last three games, had nine points in the half.
Rateska Brown led the Owls (10-10, 4-5) with 13 points.
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza and Auriemma chatted for several minutes before the game, with six photographers snapping away at their conversation. Cardoza spent 14 seasons as an assistant at Connecticut, so she knew the challenges her team would face against the perfect Huskies.
"It's like a boxing match. We hung in there for about three rounds," Cardoza said. "Once they punched us right at the end of the half, it was too much to come back from."
The Owls did improve from their first game this season against UConn. They needed only a couple of baskets at the start of the second half to top their total from the first meeting, the Huskies' 80-36 win on Jan. 11.
Auriemma is 3-0 against Cardoza.
"I'm not going to say he's like a father figure because he'd be mad at that because he's not that old," Cardoza said. "He's the reason why I'm here. We'll be best of friends for a lifetime."
The 28-game winning streak would make national news at any other women's program. It's just another ho-hum hot streak at UConn - the seventh-longest winning streak in team history was only the seventh item on the school's game notes.
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