To put it into geographic context, the Commodores, despite multiple injuries, seemed as distant from the Vandals as Nashville is to Moscow in terms of the measurables that would separate a scrum from a scrimmage.
- Box Score: UConn Women 77, Vanderbilt 44
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- UConn Huskies
- Vanderbilt Commodores
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Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, University of Connecticut-Storrs, Mansfield, CT 06269, USA
It's going to take multiple offensive options, like those that now reside in Waco and South Bend. The Commodores simply did not possess that.
"You saw the score," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "They are a very good team."
The Huskies (31-4) are off to the Bridgeport Regional semifinals on Saturday at the Webster Bank Arena against No. 4 Maryland, which advanced with its 74-49 win over Michigan State. The Huskies are in the regional semifinals for the 20th consecutive season
On Dec. 3, 2012, at the XL Center, UConn defeated the Terrapins 63-48 in a rough-and-tough battle.
The Huskies have made it at least this far each season since 1993, when they lost a second-round game to Louisville.
"I didn't realize that, but it's amazing," said Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who led UConn with 22 points.
The Huskies scored the first 17 points of the second half to turn a 13-point game with a 30-point runaway.
"We were on our heels, and they were very aggressive," Balcomb said.
Mosqueda-Lewis had two three-pointers that made her the most prolific single-season producer of treys (108) in UConn history.
"The numbers don't lie," Caroline Doty said of Mosqueda-Lewis, who also scored 22 points against Idaho. "You know when the ball is in her hands that good things are going to happen. … She is able to score from any spot on the floor."
The record-breaking hoop came with 13:13 to play in the game, the final three points in UConn's opening second-half run.
"Thank God," Geno Auriemma said. "I don't know what we'd do without her."
Breanna Stewart, back from a one-game convalescence for a sore left calf, added 14 points. Stefanie Dolson had 12. And rising freshman Morgan Tuck, who scored a career-high 18 against Idaho, added another 12.
The Commodores (21-12) were led by Tiffany Clarke's 16 points.
UConn's options were just too much for them to deal with. That became readily apparent in the second half when UConn scored the first 17 points to turn a 37-24 contest into something much less compelling.
"They came out with a higher sense of intensity," Clarke said.
It was different for the first 10 minutes of the game. Vanderbilt missed its first five shots, and by the time the drought ended, it was behind, 8-3. With 10:23 to play in the half, a couple of free throws brought the Commodores within five at 18-13.
Elan Brown scored with 5:44 left in the half to keep pace for Vanderbilt, trailing 25-20. That's when hang time ended.
The next 12 points over the ensuing 4:41 were scored by UConn, including a three-pointer from Mosqueda-Lewis tied her with Wendy Davis (107 in 1991-92).
"Our defense was as good as it's been at any time of the year," Auriemma said. "And that is exactly what you need at this time of the year."
Truth is, UConn's 17-point lead (37-20) put impenetrable distance between the teams. But the show played on.
Stewart, also back in the starting lineup, returned with the same flair she showed during UConn's run to the Big East tournament championship game when she scored 51 points in three games.
She scored nine points in 16 minutes in the first half, moving with relative ease on her injured leg.
"There was a little bit of nervousness playing in my first NCAA game, but I got over it pretty quickly," Stewart said.
UConn caused 13 turnovers in the first half, which led to 23 points. The Commodores ended with 23 turnovers that led to 34 UConn points.
"They are very aggressive, and they anticipate things very well," Balcomb said. "But they are also have huge size. We see some quick and big teams. But they are both big and quick."
The Huskies held the Commodores to just 45 shots; Vanderbilt was 1 of 8 from three-point range.