Sure, Bria Hartley could have made a few more shots against No. 1 Baylor. Sure, Breanna Stewart could have helped out in a 76-70 loss. But the message from UConn coach Geno Auriemma to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was simple: “You should have scored 33 points.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis finished with a game- and season-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field (2-of-5 3-pointers). But consider this … She went scoreless for a stretch of 9:15, including the first 9:14 of the second half, and did not even attempt a shot for a stretch of 12:43. This is why Auriemma’s message was what it was.
“I’m not happy that there was a 13-minute stretch where she (did not get) one shot,’’ Auriemma said. “I’m not happy about that. And that’s a function of us as coaches not doing a real good job, the players on the court not having the wherewithal to say, `Man, how come we’re not working harder to get Kaleena open?’ And that’s a function of Kaleena deciding `I don’t really need to shoot any more right now.’ So one-third, one-third, one third and you look up and there’s 13 minutes where she doesn’t have a shot. Because you can run any play you want if somebody just really isn’t active it’s going to be hard to get them shots.
“So we talked a lot about that and that just can’t happen. In a game of that magnitude, two really good teams playing against each other and she’s really got it going … The beginning was great. The end was great. And the middle, we need to address that. And we did. And hopefully it won’t happen again the rest of the season because she’s too good for that. She’s way too good for that.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis, who was equally disappointed by her scoring drought, did not attempt a shot over the final 3:29 of the first half and the first 9:14 of the second half. The Huskies scored 19 points in this span, watching a 27-18 lead dissolve into a 47-46 deficit.
“That game I definitely kind of just got lost in the flow of the game,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I’ve got to pull myself out of that. I didn’t even realize it, but after watching the film you can just see it. It sucks. I would rather have scored zero points and us won that game than me have the individual game that I had and us lose. If we’re not getting better as a team, that’s not the reason I came here. I came here and I wanted to win, first and foremost. And if that’s not happening and I’m not doing as much as I can to help us do that then I’ve got to change something.’’
In a program that has long prided itself on being team-oriented and unselfish, Auriemma is looking for Mosqueda-Lewis to be on the selfish side of the ledger. There is no limit on the number of shots she can take during a game. None.
And, frankly, why would there be. Mosqueda-Lewis is shooting 54.9 percent from the field and is ranked third nationally in 3-point shooting at 49.0 percent.
“I think part of that is that he wants me to score, but another part of that is I make some pretty stupid passes so he would rather me shoot the ball and let us rebound it than me just throwing it to the other team,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said jokingly. “So I think that’s what it is. But I’m going to try to just make smarter decisions if I’m not open. But I have to look for my shot whenever I can, whether that be coming off someone else’s screen or screening for my teammates and then maybe they’ll take two people with them and then I’ll be open. So I’ve got to look for my shot. I can’t be content with not scoring for a while.’’
The numbers show that Mosqueda-Lewis has had greater success when she has gotten more shots in games. She is averaging 21.0 points in 10 games when she has attempted at least 12 shots. She is also shooting 56.1 percent from the field (48.7 percent 3-pointers) on 13.9 shots in these games.
In the remaining 15 games that she has played this season, Mosqueda-Lewis is averaging 14.3 points and shooting 53.6 percent (49.4 3-pointers). She has attempted an average of 9.2 shots in these games.
“I don’t think there will ever be a game where she takes enough shots,’’ Auriemma said. “If you’re shooting 50 percent from the floor what scenario would it be like, `You know, she took too many shots tonight.’ So if she were to take 25 shots I would say, `Well, she probably took 25 shots that were legitimate shots.’ So the only thing that I concern myself with is not getting her enough shots. And its like Maya (Moore) or Diana (Taurasi) or any of these guys that were great players, you never have to worry about `Are they going to get enough shots?’ Because they work their butt off because they want to shoot the ball. And I’ve talked to Kaleena a lot about this. `The only time you’re not going to get shots is when you don’t want any.’ Because otherwise they’re there. And as I’ve always said, when the ball’s floating around the floor it always seems to find the guys that can score. So if you’re looking for it it’ll find you. If you’re not looking for it then it won’t find you.’’