Posted: Jan 4, 2014 4:50 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2014 4:51 PM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis got a firsthand look at why Connecticut is the top team in women's basketball.
Without a perfect game, the Lady Tigers fell victim as everyone else has so far this season to the top-ranked Huskies.
Memphis got 20 points from Ariel Hearn and 11 more from Pa'Sonna Hope, but lost to UConn 90-49 on Saturday afternoon.
Two major runs, one in each half, led to the overwhelming victory. The rallies were built off several of Memphis' 19 turnovers, which contributed to a 34-6 advantage for UConn on points off turnovers.
"You can't give up those big runs, and we weren't able to stop the bleeding," Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin said.
The Memphis coach acknowledged her Tigers were at a disadvantage going into the game. The Tigers could not match UConn's front line. That caused McFerrin to get away from pounding the ball inside and trying to penetrate and pitch out for 3-pointers. Memphis was 7 of 21 from outside the arc.
"We just didn't really feel like we could attack them inside," McFerrin said, later adding: "It was a little bit of a different game plan than is typical for us. We're not typically going to go away from our post players like that, so there were some play calls that weren't an option."
With the eight-time national champions coming to town, Memphis scheduled this game as part of a doubleheader with the Tigers men's team in the FedExForum, home to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. Fans paying for that morning tipoff got to stick around and watch the women play for free with a crowd estimated near 7,000.
With the Huskies now going to a handful of new towns in conference play, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he talked to his team about how plenty of people will be seeing them for the first time in person.
"We probably made some new fans tonight that became UConn fans, and Memphis probably made a few fans tonight," Auriemma said.
This was just the ninth time Memphis has played the nation's No. 1 team and first since 1999, when the Tigers faced Tennessee. Memphis fell to 1-8 against top-ranked opponents, with its lone win back on Feb. 11, 1984, over Louisiana Tech.
Despite leading 13-10 in the first half, there wasn't much indication the Tigers would repeat that 1984 accomplishment.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points, while Breanna Stewart added 17 points for UConn (15-0, 3-0) in its first visit to one of its new rivals in the American Athletic Conference.
Bria Hartley had 13, and Stefanie Dolson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Mosqueda-Lewis was 5 of 10 on 3-point attempts and added six rebounds and four assists.
The Huskies have won 21 straight since the start of the last NCAA tournament, and they showed off their much more talented roster by outshooting Memphis 53.6 percent to 30.8 percent.
UConn finished the half on a 32-7 run, with Hartley scoring nine during that stretch. Mosqueda-Lewis hit her fourth 3-pointer just before halftime for a 50-23 lead.
The Huskies have been beating opponents by an average of 37.4 points per game, best in the nation. They pushed their lead to as big as 41 with the final bucket.
"Two things we wanted to concentrate on were competing for every rebound, and the other was taking care of the basketball," McFerrin said. "We did a little bit better in the second half, but the culmination of their ability to hit shots and ability to turn turnovers into layups or threes, that's a tough challenge."