Connecticut and Syracuse victorious as all four top seeds advance to semifinals of Big East Tournament
Hartford, Conn – Second and third-seeded Connecticut and Syracuse advanced to a semifinal matchup on Monday night of the Big East tuornament. Connecticut easily dispatched DePaul 94-61 while Syracuse held off a Villanova comeback to win 61-56 in the evening session of the quarterfinal games.
In the first game, freshmen Moriah Jefferson (who made her first start of the season), Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck combined for 42 points, including a game high 21 for Stewart, to lead the Huskies. Kelly Faris only played 14 minutes as Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma limited her court time to allow injured foot ligaments some more healing time. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson, first team All-Conference selections, added 16 points apiece.
This game was blown open pretty early by the Huskies. After an Anna Martin three pointer for DePaul brought them within 14-11, the Huskies went on an 11-0 run, and they outscored the Blue Demons 35-12 for the remainder of the half, to go into the locker room up 49-23.
DePaul was led by Megan Rogowski with 15 points, as Doug Bruno’s Blue Demons will look forward to their forthcoming NCAA tournament berth.
In the late game, Syracuse led by as much as 15 in the second half, only to see Villanova cut it to two, before the Orange pulled away. Kayla Alexander, first team all-conference selection, continued to shine with an outstanding 34 points and 15 rebounds performance.
Villanova played without senior standout Laura Sweeney, who suffered a concussion against Georgetown the night before. Still, Villanova hit nine three-pointers, and showed their grit in coming back in the second half. Rachel Roberts hit three three-pointers and Taylor Holeman had two, on their way to 14 points each to lead the Cats.
However, it was Alexander that was the difference in this game. She hit 15-of-23 shots, and was the only Syracuse player in double figures. The rest of the team shot 10-for-37 from the floor, 1-of-10 from three-point range. They will need to shoot better than that to defeat Connecticut Monday night.
In the first meeting between Connecticut and Syracuse this season, on the same XL Center court, Connecticut won 87-62 in a game that was contested more than the final score indicates. Alexander only played 11 minutes that game due to foul trouble, and Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis each had 25 points for Connecticut.