It was still a game Monday when Stefanie Dolson picked up her fourth foul with 16:15 left in the second half. Four seconds later, a hoop by Elizabeth Williams cut UConn’s lead to 43-37.
How would the Huskies respond with one of their most consistent players on bench for an extended period? Dolson was just two days removed from scoring a career-high 25 points against Syracuse. The answer became clear in a matter of minutes. UConn would be just fine.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is assembling an All-American caliber season, scored twice in a span of 26 seconds. Kelly Faris followed with two free throws. Breanna Stewart made a jumper. Caroline Doty knocked down a 3-pointer. And when Mosqueda-Lewis hit a jumper with 11:35 left the Huskies had reeled off 13 straight points to open a 19-point lead and finish the Blue Devils.
“As a point of motivation that definitely got us going,’’ Faris said. “When we see her go out with four fouls … And I don’t know if they were all fouls or not, but whatever it may be it’s going to be frustrating. One of our main players just almost fouled out so she’s got to go sit the rest of the half. So that’s definitely a motivator.
“You can either use it as an excuse or to figure out a way to get things done. I think we all pulled together and figured out a way to make up for that.’’
Dolson spent 11:31 on the bench, returning with 4:44 remaining. The Huskies’ lead was 71-44 at that point as they outscored Duke 28-9 while she was sidelined.
Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart each had eight points during this stretch. Faris had seven. Doty had three. And Brianna Banks had two.
“I thought we were playing pretty well, and Stef is such a huge key to our offense,’’ Auriemma said. “And when she came out of the game … I think had the game been played the way it was played in the first half, I think it would’ve been a problem. But because of the momentum of the game and the way the game was flowing, it didn’t have the kind of effect that it would’ve had. And then Stewie finally started making a couple plays and we really didn’t miss Stefanie that much. And that’s what we’re going to need. We can’t rely on Stefanie night in and night out every single night. There’s going to be nights like (Monday) and we need people to step up. And (Monday) they did. Every one of them.’’
Auriemma initially was not at all happy with the fourth foul called on Dolson. And he let official Bonita Spence know about it.
But during his postgame remarks Auriemma made it a point to issue an apology to Spence …
“When she got that fourth foul … And I owe a public apology to Bonita. I do. I admit when I’m wrong. I don’t have to do it very often. But I’m dead serious. I owe Bonita an apology because I just let the fact that there are fouls called on Stefanie that aren’t necessarily called on other post players. I don’t know why. It just seems that they are. But in that particular case if I would’ve taken the time to really study it, which you can’t at that particular time. Stefanie fouled her. She did. It was a dumb foul, but she fouled her.’’