Just the Facts, Ma'am: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis nailed five threes in the first half for 15 of her 17 points, and the UConn Huskies paced Rutgers to a 49-34 win. Stefanie Dolson added 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks for UConn. Erica Wheeler led the Scarlet Knights with 13 points, while Khadijah Rushdan had 10 points and seven rebounds.
For a lack of pants, climbing Knights, public relations epic fail, swatted shots, and a turning point, join your intrepid and zombie-like blogger after the jump.
UConn and Rutgers finished off the night, and this was the game most folks in the arena were waiting to see. Obviously the UConn fans were out in force, and the Cagers made their presence felt across from their bench.
The bands had it going for a good while, and the rivalry was definitely evident in timing and style. They're both excellent bands and both very involved in the game. I like UConn's whiteboard to cue their members.
Geno's fun to watch. I couldn't hear him most of the time, which was a shame. I've always wanted to learn how to curse in Italian.
We got to sit next to Kim Barnes Arico for part of the first half, and that was cool. We wished our team well, though we still have not located Keylantra Langley's pants. Warm-up pants. You perverts.
Shout out to the two patient, knowledgeable, respectful, passionate UConn fans who moved behind us for the second half and chatted with us for much of the game. I didn't think UConn fans who were all of the above existed- who could chant and cheer and then turn around and chat pleasantly with non-UConn fans. (Especially ones who don't shut up.)
Christa Evans, stop fouling. I know the game is over, but stop fouling anyway. She did nothing worth noting except commit stupid fouls. She was committing enough fouls that the refs tried to call her for one when she wasn't even on the floor. (It was later corrected to Sykes, I think. Definitely corrected, think it was Sykes.) Betnijah Laney was the only guard off the bench for the Scarlet Knights, and she played like a freshman. She was part of the defense, but that's it.
I thought Khadijah Rushdan was going to go postal on Kathleen Lynch after the second travel where Rushdan swore blind she didn't move her pivot foot. I couldn't see the second one, but I thought she had a fair case on the first one. She was hustling and trying to carry her team, but UConn was on to her. April Sykes was a real non-factor- if anything, one of the shots she missed in the second half was a momentum killer for Rutgers when they were trying to make a run. If I had to choose a Rutgers player to go all 40 minutes, it would probably not be Nikki Speed, whose decision-making was not sharp, both as a passer and as a defender. But Rushdan got hurt and had to sit out briefly- really, RU, if a player who's already had a concussion this season bangs her head in front of your bench, your trainer ought to be a little faster on the draw. But we'll go into a bit more detail on that later. Erica Wheeler's shot selection was... interesting; it looked like UConn was daring her to beat them from outside while they put a body on Monique Oliver late and kept Rushdan from putting the team on her shoulders one last time. It worked. Oliver had a brief surge, then got bodied by the UConn posts and wasn't effective.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was rolling from three in the first half, with a stroke so beautiful that it should have been caught on film and used to teach young shooters how to make that perfect splash. Five threes in the first half. It was incredible. Kiah Stokes made an impact on defense, with big blocks and taking up space in the lane. She forced Rutgers to change their game plan, except I'm not sure Rutgers knows how to change their game plan.
Caroline Doty was red hot in the first few minutes, with two quick long bombs, and then she got into foul trouble and that was more or less the last we saw of her. Either Geno wanted to rest her or some body part of another was giving her agita. Her knee brace is quite terrifying up close. It makes Rebecca Lobo's brace look small, both in scale and overall. Kelly Faris, other than one three point shot and entirely too much enthusiasm from the UConn faithful, didn't register. Bria Hartley took some good shots, and took some truly dumb shots. (I'm... starting to wonder about the shot selection at North Babylon, I really am.) And I'm sorry, but she's not a point guard, no matter what awards you nominate her for or what you try to force her into. Tiffany Hayes really didn't get involved until late, and the crowd was well-pleased when she finally hit a three. Rutgers was daring them to shoot from outside, and they hit a few, and they missed a bunch. Stefanie Dolson, while not as strong offensively as UConn would have liked- you can't miss easy shots in a low-scoring game- was a defensive presence and a rebounding presence for the Huskies. Mosqueda-Lewis's shooting is the story, but without Dolson that game gets a lot more interesting (and the semi gets a lot more winnable for the Red Storm, not that I have my preferences and biases or anything).
Rutgers spent a fair bit of time up in arms at the refs, but Rutgers fans do that. I see their case in a few cases, but I think UConn hd a better case to be mad at the refs in the first half, when it seemed like everyone for the Huskies was picking up fouls left, right, and center on seemingly ticky-tack calls. The officiating loosened up a bit in the second half. Maybe they got a little too loose, given the major clock issues that took place in the second half. One of the officials forgot to fix the shot clock when she fixed the game clock, and it was a hot mess. Geno was about ready to blow his top, but he was ready to blow his top often.
Rutgers is dead to me. As Red as I am, as much of a Johnnie as I've become, there's always been a little part of me that's still Scarlet, that's still the proud daughter of a Rutgers alum. There's always been that part of me that hears the R-U and wants to respond, or that wants to rip off a "RAH RAH RUTGERS RAH". But that part of me is gone. It's sitting on the XL Center floor, broken in little pieces where Erica Wheeler sat in agony while her coach walked off the court. If you have a player who can't get up- who tells people not to help her up- the correct response is to at least acknowledge her existence and maybe offer a little support. It's not to act like everything's under control and take your team off the floor. Preliminary reports are claiming just dehydration and cramps, which is more an indictment of not resting your players, but they did an awful lot of testing and probing and making sure she didn't put weight on the leg for my liking. When the opposing band goes quiet, when they choose not to play their alma mater after a win, because your player is sitting on the floor wincing with every breath, you might want to consider showing that you care. I've been off the Stringer bandwagon for some years, but this cemented it. I'm a St. John's fan, crossing myself and praying to a God I don't necessarily believe in, while your assistants and your trainer carry your player to a wheelchair because she can't walk, and you're... in the locker room? Really?
I'm going to stop myself here before I go into any more ranting before all the evidence is in. All I'm going to say now is that both UConn and St. John's need to play much better basketball if one wants to get past the other.