HARTFORD, Conn. – Pittsburgh coach Agnus Beranato hopes her team is learning while it loses — not just how to bounce back as a basketball team, but how to bounce back in life.
The Panthers (9-18, 0-14 Big East) lost to No. 3 UConn 76-36 on Tuesday night, and are now just two losses away from going winless in the Big East for the second consecutive season.
Beranato said she is trying to teach her players that how they respond to this adversity is more important than winning and losing, and will be in the real world too.
"There's going to be bad quarters in companies," she said. "Well, do you just cash it in? Do you quit? Do you get a new job? No. You stick with it until you turn it around."
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Connecticut (26-2, 13-1 Big East). Breanna Stewart added 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots and Stefanie Dolson had 14 points for the Huskies
Brianna Kiesel had 11 points to lead Pittsburgh and Asia Logan added 10 points. The win was the 28th straight for the Huskies over Pitt, a team they haven't lost to in 20 years.
Pittsburgh has two more chances to earn its first Big East win this season, on Saturday against DePaul and on March 4 against Rutgers. Beranato said her players remain confident they can do it.
"We came in today to try to win," Beranato said. "We came in to shock the world. I think we go into every game to win."
Pittsburgh actually led early, 4-2 on a pair of buckets from Brianna Kiesel, and 8-7 after Asia Logan hit a jumper 6 minutes into the game.
UConn, which missed seven of its first eight shots from the field, took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from freshman Moriah Jefferson.
That started a 26-3 run that gave UConn control of the game. The Huskies held Pittsburgh without a field goal for the final 9:26 of the first half and went into the break leading 37-13.
Pittsburgh has now lost 13 games in a row and 34 consecutive games in regular-season Big East play.
But Beranato said every member of the team told her they learned something in the loss, and she believes they are improving.
"You know Connecticut played Stanford when they were No. 1 in the country and (Stanford) only scored 13 points at halftime," she said. "So I just kept saying, 'Dear God, can we get 13, and we got 13, and that's what Stanford got."
Logan and Kiesel were the only players to score for Pittsburgh in the first half. The Panthers made just five of their 27 shots, allowing UConn to pull away.
UConn stretched the throughout the second half, going up by 30 points, 62-30 on a 3-pointer by Mosqueda-Lewis.
The Huskies dominated the boards, outrebounding Pittsburgh 49 to 29.
Auriemma now has 401 Big East wins, and is only the second coach all-time to win 400 games in a single conference, along with Stanford's Tara VanDerveer.
UConn's Kelly Faris came within a point of a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. She needs just five rebounds to join Maya Moore as the only players in program history to finish her career with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 steals.
She finished with four steals and three assists against the Panthers.
"It's hard for me to get really excited about statistics and stuff," she said.
Connecticut finishes 13-2 at home this season, 7-1 in Hartford and 6-1 in Storrs. The Huskies lost on campus to No. 2 Notre Dame and at the XL Center to No. 1 Baylor.
The Huskies were coming off a 60-point win over Seton Hall, and came into the game having outscored opponents by an average of more than 35 points a game this season.
But Mosqueda-Lewis said they know they have to get better to reach their next goals, winning the regular-season conference title, the tournament title and a national title.
"It's still in progress right now," she said. "We've got two more games until regular season is over and three more practices just about, and we're going to use every single one of them to get ourselves to that point."