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Huskies hope that nobody's perfect

By Vickie Fulkerson

Publication: The Day

Published January 21. 2013 4:00AM
Gerry Broome/AP Photo
Elizabeth Williams of Duke reaches for a rebound as Markeisha Gatling of North Carolina State defends in a game on Jan. 3.
UConn women host last unbeaten team

Last time UConn and Duke met at Gampel Pavilion, on Jan. 31, 2011, Duke was also the only remaining undefeated team in the nation, as the Blue Devils are now at 16-0. UConn sent them home with an 87-51 defeat.

"It was one of the roughest film sessions we've had," junior point guard Chelsea Gray said in a story on the team's Web site. "I never want to walk away from that feeling. I remember that feeling still to this day."

"I'm sure what's happened the last couple years is in their head," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I'm sure they're coming to make sure it's not like that at all."

No. 3 UConn (16-1) meets No. 4 Duke at 7 tonight at Gampel Pavilion in a Martin Luther King Day game to be televised by ESPN2.

UConn also beat Duke 75-40 in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 61-45 last season at Duke.

These teams would appear to be more evenly matched, as both present among the best inside-outside combinations in the game.

Duke has the dynamic Gray (14.0 points, 6.3 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 3.6 steals), as well as 6-foot-3 sophomore center Elizabeth Williams (15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg), who has blocked at least one shot in every career game she's played. UConn has leading scorer Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, (17.1 ppg), a sophomore who hit six 3-point field goals in Saturday's 87-62 victory over Syracuse and 6-5 junior center Stefanie Dolson (13.8 ppg., 6.7 rpg), who scored a career-high 25 points Saturday including the 1,000th of her career.

Duke's complementary players include junior guard Tricia Liston, seventh in the nation from 3-point range at 46.4 percent (Mosqueda-Lewis is second at 49.4 percent.) UConn has 6-4 freshman forward Breanna Stewart (14.9 ppg., 7.2 rpg.), who came back from an ankle injury to score 20 points in 22 minutes off the bench.

Aside from Dolson's milestone, Mosqueda-Lewis' performance was one of UConn's highlights against Syracuse as she filled up the stat sheet with 25 points (6-for-13 from 3-point range), nine rebounds, four steals and two assists.

"Kaleena just took the ball and started playing one-on-one," Auriemma said. "She caught the ball and decided 'this is what I'm going to do with it.'"

"Last game I did a lot of standing around," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "I was stagnant. Today was more all over the place. When you keep going, you notice you're more productive out there."

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose team has one win over a ranked team this year in No. 10 Cal (77-63, Dec. 2 at Duke), meanwhile, said in an interview on goduke.com that she's not looking at the UConn game as a means of revenge or anything like that. She's looking as it as an opportunity to help her team grow.

"For me, you want a program mentality," McCallie said. "A program mentality is treating every game the same. It's just another domino. And I'd like to have that program mentality. I'm not saying we have that program mentality, but I'm saying that's what you want. You want to get fired up to play your game, your way, anyplace that you play. That's a sign of a championship team."

UConn has wins this season over then-No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 14 Purdue, No. 9 Maryland, No. 10 Penn State, No. 1 Stanford, No. 15 Louisville and a loss to No. 5 Notre Dame. The Huskies have won 13 of their last 18 games against top five opponents and are 45-26 all time in that situation.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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