Unbeaten UConn turns back BYU’s upset bid, 70-51

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - For the first half, UConn received an unexpected challenge from BYU.

But the Huskies took control in the second half and pulled away for another win.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points to lead four Connecticut players in double figures, and the defending national champion Huskies shook off BYU early in the second half to win 70-51 in the NCAA women’s regional semifinals Saturday.

“There’s always one of these in the tournament,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I hope there’s only one.”

The Huskies (37-0), winners of 43 straight, will try to reach the Final Four for the seventh straight year when they take on Texas A&M; on Monday night. The Aggies advanced with an 84-65 victory over DePaul.

UConn season scoring leaders Breanna Stewart and Bria Hartley overcame slow starts, with Stewart having 12 of her 16 in the second half and Hartley all 12 after halftime.

Hartley scored 11 of the Huskies’ 13 points during a stretch their lead grew to 50-41.

“To be honest with you, people on our staff will vouch for me, I knew it was going to be like this,” Auriemma said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy matchup. It’s not supposed to be easy, no matter how we make it look sometimes. I think we showed a lot of who we are in the second half. When we need a play, we made the plays.”

Kim Beeston led the Cougars (28-7) with 16 points, and Morgan Bailey added 14. Jennifer Hamson had nine points to go with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson each grabbed 13 rebounds, with Mosqueda-Lewis gathering eight on the offensive end and scoring on putbacks.

“All of us take it upon ourselves, if a couple people aren’t hitting shots like they usually do, it’s our job to pick them up and make some shots,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I think especially with our starting five, we have accountability.”

The Cougars, who came to Lincoln off wins in 12 of 13 games, joined Kansas in 2013 and San Francisco in 1996 as the only No. 12 seeds to make it to the regional semifinals.

They were trying to become the lowest seed to reach the Elite Eight since No. 11 Gonzaga did it in 2011.

Until early in the second half it looked as if they had a chance to do it - against the dominant program of this era, no less.

“We worked hard to get here,” Hamson said. “I’m proud of my team and what we’ve done together. Hopefully, they can take this and move forward.”

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