Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has yet to earn All-American honors in her brief career. Judging by how she has performed this season for the Huskies, and most recently tonight in a 76-70 loss to No. 1 Baylor, it is only a matter of weeks before she is officially recognized as one of the nation’s elite players.
Mosqueda-Lewis delivered a season-high 26 points (11-of-14 FG), two assists and career-highs of 15 rebounds and three blocks in a season-high 38 minutes. She also produced a career-high eight offensive rebounds before a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center and a national television audience.
“Kaleena was tremendous,’’ UConn junior Stefanie Dolson said. “She did an awesome job of just being so physical and aggressive on the boards. She had 15 boards, 26 points. That’s a great game. She is one of our main scorers on offense and she gets guarded very hard. So she did a great job of getting herself open and working with us in the offensive and defensive end. Her rebounding was just awesome.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis had already recorded her third career double-double – second this season – by the time the first half ended. She had 13 points and 10 rebounds (five offensive) in 18 minutes in the half.
In looking at her overall numbers, keep this in mind. … Mosqueda-Lewis did not attempt a shot over the final 3:29 of the first half and the first 9:14 of the second half.
“I thought Kaleena Lewis today was unbelievable at both ends of the floor,’’ Auriemma said. “I thought she was unbelievable. Her ability to offensive rebound that’s just tremendous work ethic. She reminded me of Maya (Moore) tonight. That’s as close as I can see anybody being like Maya tonight. We just need her to fill in those seven or eight minutes. And I don’t know that she … She probably knows it, but doesn’t really know it, how important she is to us in a game like this. You think back to last year when she had the 15 in the first half and then she disappeared for long stretches. I think once she realizes that `I need to impact every possession’ I think you’ll see her build on tonight. And it’ll be unbelievable to watch.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis, who needs six points to become the 37th player in team history to reach 1,000, is averaging a team-high 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 28.7 minutes this season.
“We’ve talked a lot (in the off-season) about just being a better basketball player and being more physical,’’ Auriemma said. “And I thought there were times today where we could’ve gotten her the ball in the lane and maybe gotten to the free throw a little bit more. But we missed some opportunities. But she’s done everything we’ve asked to her to do this season and tonight was an All-American type game for her. I don’t know how you can play any better than she played tonight.’’
A recruiting source said that Auriemma is heading to see UConn Class of 2014 target A’ja Wilson, a 6-foot-4 forward from Hopkins, S.C., Tuesday.