Print this story

Stewart scores 26, so does Houston in 85-26 loss to UConn.

POSTED February 18, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Breanna Stewart scored 26 points as the UConn Huskies demolished Houston by an 85-26 final on Tuesday night at the XL Center.

HARTFORD: It's gotten so hard to figure out what to say about the University of Connecticut women's basketball team as it continues to simply steamroll anyone or anything that gets in their way.

Yet they do it so well, the steamrolling, that they don't commit a high number of fouls along the way.

In the strange but true statistic category, Wednesday night during the Huskies' 85-26 destruction of the Houston Cougars, they did not send the visitors to shoot a single free throw.

That's two straight games without giving up a single free opportunity to put points on the board without anyone contesting your try.

"We work really, really hard at not fouling," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "There's a reason they call it fouling. It's something we're not supposed to do. It's kind of like a turnover. We're not in the giving spirit right now. That was how we were in December around Christmas, but not now."

With three games to play in the regular season, the Huskies (25-1, 14-0 in the AAC) are working on getting better, if that's at all possible.

Back in January when they played St John's at The Garden, Auriemma had taken his team to a Broadway show as a way of showing them how consistently those performers worked at being flawless every night.

At the time, (the show was The Book of Mormons) the 30-year head coach was not pleased after watching his team struggle somewhat before putting St John's away and thought if they were a show on the big stage, they would have closed after the intermission based on their effort.

How far have they come since that Sunday in the Big Apple?

How close are they to playing a near perfect game?

"I think we got pretty close to that level against South Carolina (a 25-point win on February 9)," Auriemma said. "That was pretty close. It's that attention to detail, trying to get it exactly right. If that's the standard than we didn't play anywhere near that level tonight but we came close that night. We're a lot closer to that now than we were in December."

For UConn, Breanna Stewart was one determined player against the Cougars. The junior forward equaled the entire offensive output of Houston with her 26-point effort.

"I was trying to play more aggressive," Stewart said. "The last game shots were not falling so I wanted to get easy shots around the basket, that kind of thing."

Not sending a team to the free throw line is something the players were certainly aware of and spoke of it.

"It's a goal we have as a team," Stewart said. "The thing is, we never want to get someone into the one-and-one. That's the first goal. But to not have them shoot free throws at all, well that's great."

The UConn defense started their ramp up to warp speed against the Gamecocks last Monday and have not relented since.

On Tuesday night, the Huskies forced a remarkable seven shot clock violations, not something that shows up in your average box score, but something that has a dramatic effect on the team trying to keep up with the high powered offense that UConn throws at you every night.

"I think we did a real good job of playing defense tonight," Moriah Jefferson said. "We were really big and did a good job of rotating and Stewie did a good job of denying a lot of passes. Once you take away what the offense wants to do, it takes them awhile to get into something else. We knew they like to do a lot of dribble weave so we tried just to keep them on one side of the court and try to take away the next pass."

NOTES: The game marked the last appearance for Kaleena Mosquada-Lewis and Kiah Stokes at the XL Center as they wind down their outstanding careers with the Huskies.

"I try and tell them how fast the four years is going to go," Auriemma said. "It’s hard when you're 18 and you think it's going to last forever."

The Huskies shot 56 percent for the game but hit just 3-of-17 from three-point land. It didn't matter on a night when the inside game accounted for 62 points in the paint versus eight for the Cougars.

Morgan Tuck, Jefferson and Gabby Williams each poured in a dozen points in the win.

UConn outrebounded Houston by a 46-26 margin.

Stokes led the way with 13 in just 20 minutes of action.

UConn committed just eight fouls and had 25 assists on 37 baskets, while turning the ball over just 10 times.

The visitors shot just 20 percent from the floor.

UConn hits the road for games in Tulsa on Saturday and Monday at Tulane before returning to play its final regular season game at Gampel on Saturday, February 28. It will be Senior Night for KML and Stokes.       

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here