HARTFORD, Conn. - The Connecticut women's basketball program has been no stranger to high scoring players. From Maya Moore, to Tina Charles, to Nykesha Sales, the Huskies have never had much problem finding someone to score points.
On Saturday afternoon against Syracuse, UConn's Stefanie Dolson eclipsed the 1,000-career point mark on a first half layup, making her mark in a storied program's history of scorers. She is the 36th player in UConn history to reach 1,000. To make a good thing even better, Dolson finished with a career-high 25 points to propel the No. 3 Huskies to an 87-62 victory over their Big East opponent.
"It's a stepping stone, but it's not everything that I came here for," Dolson said of the milestone. "I came here to win a national championship, to become the best player I can, and scoring 1,000 is great, but it's not going to mean much if we don't win the national championship at the end of the year."
With two minutes remaining in the game and UConn (16-1, 4-1) assured of victory, coach Geno Auriemma sat Dolson for the final minutes. As Dolson made her way to the bench, the fans at the XL Center rose to their feet and she responded with a huge smile across her face.
"When they gave me the standing ovation, it's something I'll never forget," Dolson said.
Dolson added seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Entering the game, she only needed eight points to reach the 1,000 point mark.
"I just think she put herself in a great situation right now and I just hope she keeps getting better every day," Auriemma said of Dolson. "I know that's her goal as well."
Not to be outdone, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also finished with 25 points as well as nine rebounds and four steals. Mosqueda-Lewis tied her career-high hitting six 3-pointers on 13 attempts. UConn shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, hitting eight 3-pointers against Syracuse (15-2, 3-1), which has one of the best three-point defenses in the country.
After missing the previous two games due to an ankle injury, Breanna Stewart came off of the bench for the Huskies. In 22 minutes, Stewart scored 20 points and grabbed three rebounds. Stewart, Mosqueda-Lewis and Dolson were the only three UConn players to finish in double figures, scoring 70 of the team's 87 points.
Another key to UConn's success was the foul situation with Syracuse's Kayla Alexander, who fouled out with 5:33 remaining in the game. Alexander finished with four points and three rebounds in only 11 minutes, much lower than her season averages of nearly 20 points and nine rebounds per game.
Now UConn will prepare for a matchup against No. 4 Duke on Monday night in Storrs. The last time these two teams met, the Huskies won 87-51 on Jan. 31, 2011.
"I'm sure it's on their minds a little bit and I think the last time they came to Gampel wasn't really a fun trip for them," Auriemma said of Duke. "I know Monday night is going to be very, very difficult for us."
Turnovers bother Auriemma
For the second straight game, UConn finished with 18 turnovers, rare for a team that wins by large margins. "I think there are a lot of kids at UConn that would be great teammates that I would love to have on the team, but if they suck at passing the ball I wouldn't really want them just because they are great teammates," Auriemma said. "We've got a lot of guys on our team maybe trying to be great teammates. Well, they should be lousy teammates and complete [gosh darn] passes. That would make me a lot happier."