Rebounding A Battle Every Game For Mosqueda-Lewis And Faris

Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis leads the third-ranked Huskies in scoring (17.1). And with as many as 11 games remaining, she is on pace to score 650 points, which would be the 10th highest single-season total in team history and the third most by a UConn sophomore.

We all knew coming in that Mosqueda-Lewis could score. And there might not be a better pure shooter in the country as she is shooting 55.2 percent from the field and is ranked first nationally in 3-point shooting at 50.3 percent.

But it is her bump in rebounding this season that has helped make Mosqueda-Lewis a better all-around player. She is averaging 6.4 rebounds in 27 games, which is tied for second on the team. That is up from 5.4 in 38 games last season.

Mosqueda-Lewis has reached double figures in rebounding in two of the last three games, including a career-high 15 against No. 1 Baylor Feb. 18, and is averaging 8.8 (3.4 offensive rebounds) over the last five games since UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph issued a challenge to Mosqueda-Lewis and senior Kelly Faris.

“Shea and Coach (Geno Auriemma) and all of them have actually been emphasizing, `We need to rebound. We need to be a stronger rebounding team,’’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “Everybody needs to be crashing in there every single time. And Shea’s made it kind of a battle between me and Kelly every single game saying, `which one of you is going to get more rebounds this game?’

“It started at the Providence game and I was like, `Alright, Kelly, let’s go.’ So we’re fighting for rebounds in there. She took one of my offensive rebounds (Tuesday against Pittsburgh). I was so mad. I feel like the fact that we’re so competitive and that we just want to get our team extra possessions. We want to get ourselves going on offense that me and Kelly are just going in there whenever we can.’’

Faris is averaging 5.2 rebounds (1.6 offensive) in this five-game stretch. Mosqueda-Lewis edged Faris 13-9 overall Tuesday against Pittsburgh and 3-2 at the offensive end.

“I was not happy,’’ Faris said. “I definitely thought I had more (Tuesday). At least I felt like it, and I didn’t. So that’s a sore subject.’’

Faris agreed that the competition with Mosqueda-Lewis does bring out the best in each other.

“When we do that, when you put anything into a competition, if you’re competitive enough and that’s the type of person you are, then you’re going to do much better,’’ Faris said. “Like in preseason we got into teams and it was this team vs. this team and who’s going to win, who’s going to do that. And it’s that much more fun. If it’s in a competition, whatever it is in you, you’re going to go harder. It’s a good competition for us to have and I’m not happy about a couple of times.’’