HARTFORD, Conn. – Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half and fourth-ranked Connecticut beat No. 23 Rutgers 49-34 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
The third-seeded Huskies (27-4) will face second-seed St. John's in the semifinals Monday night. The Red Storm ended the Huskies' 99-game home winning streak on Feb. 18. UConn then proceeded to lose to No. 3 Notre Dame last Monday night, marking the first time in 19 years the Huskies lost consecutive home games.
Mosqueda-Lewis and the Huskies' stellar defense wouldn't let it be three in a row.
With the victory, UConn (27-4) avoided seeing two more of its streaks end. The Huskies still haven't lost consecutive games in 19 years. They also haven't been beaten three straight times at home since that same season.
UConn is looking to extend its streak of winning either the Big East regular season or tournament title for a 19th-straight year. The last time the Huskies were a three seed in 2005, they won the tournament.
Erica Wheeler scored 13 points to lead the Scarlet Knights (22-9).
Rutgers and Connecticut met in Storrs a month ago and the Huskies cruised to an easy 66-34 victory. The Scarlet Knights were missing starting point guard Khadijah Rushdan in that game due to a concussion.
With their senior leader back, they put up a much better fight.
Trailing by 17 late in the first half, Rutgers went on a 13-4 run spanning halftime to pull to 34-26 on Wheeler's jumper with 12:52 left. Rushdan had four points during the spurt and finished the game with 10 points. The Scarlet Knights held UConn without a point for 7½ minutes. Stefanie Dolson finally ended the drought with a putback.
After Rushdan took a hard spill, banging her head, she hit a jumper to make it 36-28.
That's as close as the Scarlet Knights would get as Bria Hartley and Tiffany Hayes hit back-to-back 3s to make it a 14-point game. Rutgers would get no closer than eight the rest of the game.
The Huskies, who lead the nation giving up just under 46 points a game and field goal defense, held the Scarlet Knights to 24 percent shooting. That helped offset a subpar offensive night by UConn, which shot just 33 percent from the field.
Mosqueda-Lewis helped the Huskies jump out to an early lead. The Big East conference's sixth-man of the year and freshman of the year had 15 points, hitting five 3-pointers in the span of 9 minutes. Her back-to-back 3s made it 28-13 with 3:16 left in the half.
The Huskies led 30-18 at the break as the freshman guard made five of her seven shots and the rest of the team was 4 for 18.