BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies are headed back to a familiar place — the Final Four.
Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 17 to help top-seed UConn rout Kentucky 83-53 on Monday night and advance to a record sixth-straight national semifinal.
“It definitely doesn’t get old,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “Each year is different, special in its own way. This is our last go-around, we want to go out with a bang. I’m fortunate to be part of this program where we make it every year. We never are satisfied until we get to that final game.”
The Huskies will face either Notre Dame or Duke in the national semifinals on Sunday in New Orleans. The Irish and Blue Devils play Tuesday night.
“Anytime you’re fortunate to play in the Final Four you’re going to have to beat two great teams,” Auriemma said. “You don’t stumble your way into the Final Four that’s for sure. Whoever we play Sunday that’s our main focus right now. After Sunday we’ll play on Tuesday or going home. Right now we have a great chance to win a national championship.”
UConn (33-4) broke a tie with Stanford (2008-12), LSU (2004-08) and itself (2000-04) by reaching the Final Four again.
It was the second straight season UConn beat Kentucky in the regional finals. The Huskies topped the Wildcats by 15 last year 105 miles to the north of Bridgeport in Kingston, R.I.
This game wasn’t as close. Kentucky stayed close for the first 10 minutes with their “40 minutes of dread” defense. Then UConn turned up its own defensive intensity.
The Huskies trailed 23-22 with just 9 minutes left in the first half. That’s when Stewart — honored as the outstanding player of the Bridgeport Regional — and UConn’s “no-name” defense took over allowing three points the rest of the half.