• UConn stuns Cardinal in runaway
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     | December 30,2012
     

    STANFORD, Calif. — Geno Auriemma insists long winning streaks do little to get him amped up, even after he traveled his Connecticut team across the country to face top-ranked Stanford and its daunting 82-game unbeaten run at Maples Pavilion.

    The Huskies sure got a thrill from leaving with an unexpected rout and silencing a typically raucous crowd — and likely stealing away the No. 1 spot in the polls along with it.

    Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and second-ranked UConn played spoiler and streak-buster this time, snapping Stanford’s nation-leading home winning streak with a surprisingly easy 61-35 victory Saturday.

    It was the Huskies who saw the end of their NCAA record 90-game winning streak at Maples Pavilion with a 71-59 loss two years ago, almost to the day on Dec. 30.

    “The last time we were here it was a big event for them and they treated it like it was a big event, and God bless them,” Auriemma said. “But for us to win a game here in late December, it’s no more than just a big game against a really good team. The other stuff, I didn’t get all that excited about us winning 90, I’m not going to get that excited about us beating somebody who’s won 82 in a row at home.”

    Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 points as UConn (11-0) thoroughly outplayed Stanford (11-1) on both ends of the floor in this highly touted game featuring the country’s top programs and Final Four regulars from opposite coasts.

    Stanford got harassed right off the home floor that it ruled with perfection and dominant play for nearly six years — and the Huskies surely took the Cardinal’s No. 1 spot along with it.

    The game was the 51st meeting between the top two teams in the poll. The No. 1 seed had won the previous nine matchups and holds a 31-20 lead.

    Chiney Ogwumike had 18 points and 13 rebounds but struggled in the post as Stanford lost at home for the first time since March 2007.

    “It was a bad day. Whatever we were trying to do, we really struggled with it,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Connecticut came in here on a mission. Mission accomplished.”

    Stefanie Dolson had 10 points and 14 rebounds and flustered Ogwumike all afternoon, and Bria Hartley and Kelly Faris also scored 10 apiece for UConn.

    Breanna Stewart scored seven straight points during a decisive 17-2 run in the first half as UConn built a 22-7 lead against the cold-shooting Cardinal and kept the pressure on the rest of the way.

    Stanford trailed 31-13 at halftime in one of its worst 20 minutes in recent memory — though the school had no record of when the Cardinal were last held to that few points in a half.

    They had gone five full seasons with an unbeaten record on their home floor.

    Mosqueda-Lewis, last season’s Big East top freshman averaging 16.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, shot 7 for 13 as Connecticut shot 37.5 percent from the floor — and that was plenty good enough against a Stanford team that wound up at a dismal 19.3 percent (11 for 57) in its lowest single-game shooting performance and fewest field goals made.

    “I love the game, I think it’s a great game for both teams, but for our game two years ago it was a national event — I don’t think tonight was a national event,” Auriemma said. “We beat a really good Stanford team on their home court and they happened to have won a lot of games at home.”

    Stanford had four early possessions over the opening 4 1/2 minutes in which it faced a dwindling shot clock.

    This wasn’t the Cardinal’s worst home loss ever — that was a 96-51 defeat to Long Beach State on March 10, 1983 — though UConn sure made it feel like it for an afternoon to silence a typically animated crowd.

    Auriemma was booed by the crowd during pregame introductions, then again when the coach was whistled for a technical foul with his team ahead 19 points with 13:22 remaining.

    UConn, which had trailed for only 48 seconds all season coming into the game and now just 2:21 in all, won for the first time at Stanford in four tries.

    Ogwumike, Stanford’s leading scorer and rebounder averaging 21.8 points and 12.8 boards, was held to 6-for-22 shooting.

    “I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like this,” Ogwumike said. “That Connecticut team we played for 40 minutes is the standard. And the great thing is now we’ve experienced the standard.”

    UConn’s 6-foot-5 Dolson made things tough all day for Ogwumike — who stands 6-4 — and gave her problems with a size advantage to deny Stanford’s top player and keep her away from the basket. That led to some forced shots in the first half, when Ogwumike missed 8 of her first 9 attempts. She scored at the 7:25 mark of the first half to end a nearly 6-minute scoring drought since her previous basket on a putback at 13:19.

    Stanford then went 4:58 without scoring before Ogwumike’s three-point play 2:27 before halftime.

    “Stefanie was going to guard Chiney until she proved that she couldn’t,” Auriemma said.

    Dolson was whistled for her third foul with 17:42 left in the game, but Mikaela Ruef missed both free throws.

    Walking off the court after this one “was complete opposite,” Dolson said.

    “Two years ago we lost and it ended our streak. It was just a horrible loss,” she recalled.

    Bonnie Samuelson’s back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half, the Cardinal’s first from behind the arc, gave them some life. But it was short-lived as the Huskies pulled away.

    Stanford’s 82-game home winning streak dated to a 68-61 loss to Florida State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 19, 2007.

    This season’s Cardinal stunned defending NCAA champion and then-top-ranked Baylor and Brittney Griner on Nov. 16 to become the nation’s No. 1 team and avenge a loss in last spring’s NCAA semifinals.

    The Cardinal hardly looked like the best team Saturday against the dominant Huskies. They were held below 40 points for the first time since a 72-32 loss to Missouri on Jan. 2, 1984.

    Stanford missed its initial 10 3-point tries and began the game 3 for 22 to fall behind 22-7, with UConn getting three quick 3s.

    Ogwumike’s big sister, Nnemkadi — the 2012 No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick of the Los Angeles Sparks — attended the game, along with other former Stanford players Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Lindy La Rocque.

    Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle, the team’s second-leading scorer, managed only two points while playing on her 22nd birthday.

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