Seeing All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis careening over a courtside table early in the second half of Friday’s 101-35 win over Division II Gannon at Gampel Pavilion provided another reminder of just how much these players value their time on the court and what they are willing to do in an effort to help their team.
Mosqueda-Lewis could have been injured on the play, one that occurred with UConn leading 59-13 with 17:48 left. It didn’t matter. She was going to do everything she could to try to save the loose ball from going out of bounds.
“I thought I could get the ball and save it in time,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I thought I had tipped it so that’s why I was trying to get it. And by the time my momentum was there I kind of just had to go into the table. And I was lucky I fell on someone. Unfortunate for him, but lucky for me.
“My effort’s not really going to change regardless of who we’re playing or what atmosphere I’m in. To stay consistent like that is going to be important for our team his year.’’
Sophomore point guard Moriah Jefferson had some fun with the play after the game.
“I think she just wanted to get on SportsCenter or something,’’ Jefferson said. “No. That’s how she’s been playing at practice lately with a lot more hustle plays. So I was proud of her.’’
The experience has already been something special for sophomore Briana Pulido. It got even better in the final minutes Friday.
Pulido made her UConn debut with 2:55 left in the game. She scored her first basket with 1:32 left. And on her way back up the court she could not conceal her raw emotion, smiling and delivering a fist pump. It was a moment that also brought joy to her teammates and coaches.
“We enjoy that as a team,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We’ve had a problem at practice when the two of them (Pulido and walk-on Tierney Lawlor) have been on the court together because things don’t function very well. If you only have one of them in you can really do a lot of things for them to help them. But when there’s both of them in there one’s going to get left out. But that’s why I put her in second because I knew that as soon as she touched the ball she was going to shoot it. T was going to be a little bit harder to get involved because she’s not like that. And it’s funny because T’s a 10-times better shooter than Polly, but Polly will shoot it 10 times as often as T. So her reaction was great.’’