There were two things on the line during the UConn Huskies women's basketball game with the Louisville Cardinals in Louisville, KY on Monday night.
The outright American Athletic Conference women's basketball regular season championship (with a UConn win). Or a share of the title (with a Louisville win). And oh yeah, a perfect regular season for the UConn women.
The Cardinals came out quick and threw their best punches. But in the end No. 1 UConn absorbed them and added a few of their own as they beat No. 3 Louisville 68-48 in front a record women's basketball crowd of 22,163 at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Huskies finish the regular season 31-0 (18-0 American) and will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming AAC Tournament this weekend. Lousiville, who will be the No. 2 seed, finishes at 28-3 (16-2).
Breanna Stewart led UConn with a double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots. Bria Hartley added 14 points while Moriah Jefferson had 11 points before becoming just the second Huskies player to foul out this season.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added a double-double of her own with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Stefanie Dolson had a nice all-around game with six points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Tia Gibbs paced the Cardinals with 16 points. Sara Hammond added 12 points while Shoni Schimmel was held to nine points. Asia Taylor led them with nine rebounds.
Louisville threw the first punches as they put UConn in their largest deficit of the season with a 7-0 run to start the game. KML brought the Huskies back with five straight points. The battle continued and a layup by Hammond put the home side up six at 16-10.
From there, the Huskies battled back to take their first lead at 21-20 on a KML three-pointer. They would take the lead for the good at 23-21 on a Dolson layup. That layup kickstarted an 11-0 UConn run that put them up 10 points.
The Cardinals would get it as close as six but at the half UConn would enjoy a 10 point lead.
Neither team shot the ball well in the second half but UConn clamped down on defense and never let the home team back into the game.
This was an odd game for the Huskies.
They used their offense to take control in the first half and defense in the second half to seize the game. I say odd because I don't think we've ever seen a UConn team shoot the ball that badly in a half (9-of-28, 32.1%).
UConn will be back in action on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT when they'll take on the winner of the 8/9 game between UCF and Cincinnati.
UConn Huskies @ Lousiville Cardinals 3/3/14 box score
Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and Louisville head coach Jeff Walz.
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photo credit: john woike - hartford courant