BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bria Hartley and the Connecticut Huskies nearly played a flawless defensive game in a record rout of Kansas State.
Hartley scored 13 of her 16 points in the first half and top-seeded UConn set a women’s NCAA tournament record for fewest points allowed in a 72-26 victory Monday night.
“I think it was definitely close to a perfect game — you can always do better,” Hartley said. “We came out with a lot more intensity than we did last game. We used that game as motivation to play better this game.”
The Huskies (31-4) limited Kansas State to 18 percent shooting and 10 field goals, contesting virtually every shot in their second-round matchup.
“Defense is what we take pride in here,” said Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who added 15 points. “I feel like we have a lot of good offensive players, but it doesn’t really take heart to play offense. All defense is is a lot of heart and a lot of effort and I think we put out a lot of heart and a lot of effort tonight on defense.”
UConn, which will play the winner of Penn State and LSU in Kingston, R.I., on Sunday in the regional semifinals, advanced to the round of 16 for the 19th straight season.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma is pleased with the program’s consistency.
“Up to this point there haven’t been any breakdowns,” he said. “We haven’t found ourselves losing in the first round, or playing poorly and losing in the second round. We just won’t allow ourselves to do that to this point. We haven’t for two decades and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”
Eighth-seeded Kansas State (20-14) was trying to make it that far for the first time since 2002. But the Wildcats were no match for the Huskies, unable to surpass the 27 points that Southern scored against Duke in 2006, the previous record.
“When you play a great team and compete as ineptly as we did tonight, you end up on the bad side of a big deficit,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “I’m proud of the team for our season, disappointed in the end result.”
Brittany Chambers scored 11 points to lead the Wildcats, who went 11 minutes in the first half without a point.
After taking a 3-2 lead 34 seconds in, the Wildcats missed 18 straight shots over the next 11:17. By the time Jalana Childs put back a miss, they trailed 19-5 with 8:09 left. They could never recover.
“Our defensive effort tonight was about as good I’ve seen from us all year long,” Auriemma said. “There really were very few open looks that we gave up and I think our pressure has been as good as it’s been any time all year.”
Even when Kansas State did something right, it went wrong. Twice the Wildcats had steals at midcourt that would have led to easy layups, but UConn was whistled for fouls. Both times Kansas State took the ball out on the side and was unable to convert the turnovers into baskets.
A pull-up jumper from the free throw line by Chambers just before halftime helped Kansas State avoid tying Prairie View for the lowest-scoring first half in the history of the NCAA tournament. The 16th-seeded Lady Panthers did that last season against Brittney Griner and top-seeded Baylor.
UConn, which leads the nation in scoring defense at just under 46 points a game and field goal percentage defense (30.0), was converting Kansas State’s misses into easy baskets.
Hartley and Mosqueda-Lewis outscored the Wildcats in the first half. Mosqueda-Lewis, who matched the UConn record with 21 points in her NCAA debut, fell just five short of the school’s two-game mark held by Maya Moore.
The Huskies led 38-10 at halftime, as the Wildcats missed 27 of their 31 shots.
It didn’t get much better in the second half for Kansas State. UConn built its lead up to 46. The only question in the last few minutes was whether the Wildcats would avoid the mark for futility set by Southern.
A late basket by Emma Ostermann gave Kansas State 26 points. The Wildcats had a few chances for more, but couldn’t come up with another point.
It was the 17th time this season that the Huskies held an opponent under 40 points.
The Wildcats survived a tough test from Princeton in the opening round Saturday, beating the Tigers 67-64. Kansas State was playing the Huskies for the first time despite being in UConn’s region of the NCAAs five times in the last 11 years.
Before the game, Patterson said she was impressed by UConn’s defense after watching it against Prairie View in the opener. The Huskies held the Lady Panthers to just 15 points in the second half of that 83-47 victory. They continued that stellar effort against the Wildcats.
“To be honest, all year long watching them on television and film prior to this game, they’ve been my pick to win it all,” Patterson said. “I really never pick against Connecticut. They’re as versatile as you would have thought when they’re shooting as well as they are on the perimeter.”
With the first-round win against the Lady Panthers, UConn surpassed the 30-victory mark for the seventh straight season, matching the Division I record set by Duke from 2001-07.
“We talked about the 30 wins and how important that is to them,” Auriemma said. “Going to regionals again, how rewarding it should feel for them. Those are things that sometimes people take for granted. We don’t want to do that. I’m happy for this group. I’m really happy for this group.”
MARYLAND 72, LOUISVILLE 68: Laurin Mincy scored 24 points, Tianna Hawkins had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Maryland squeezed past Louisville in the Raleigh Regional at College Park, Md., to reach the round of 16.
The Terrapins trailed 64-59 with 6 minutes left before closing with a 13-4 run and limiting Louisville to only one field goal.
Maryland (30-4) will face the winner of Monday night’s late game between defending champion Texas A&M and Arkansas. The Terrapins charge into Sunday’s regional semifinal riding a nine-game winning streak.
Shoni Schimmel scored 22 points and Shawnta’ Dyer had 17 for the Cardinals (23-10). Louisville had a chance to tie in the closing seconds before Mincy blocked a shot by Becky Burke.
Burke, who came in averaging 11.7 points, finished with five.
STANFORD 72, WEST VIRGINIA 55: Freshman guard Amber Orrange scored a career-high 18 points and Stanford beat West Virginia in the second round in the Fresno Regional at Norfolk, Va.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 16 points and Chiney Ogwumike finished with 13 for the Cardinal (33-1), who easily stretched their school-record winning streak to 30 games. The sisters were hampered by foul trouble, but Orrange also helped out with seven rebounds and five assists.
Ayana Dunning led the Mountaineers (24-10) with 14 points and Asya Buassie had 11, but West Virginia shot just 31 percent.
The Cardinal were leading 16-12 when Nnemkadi Ogwumike’s two free throws sparked a 17-0 run. West Virginia went more than 6 minutes without scoring and trailed 33-14 when Dunning finally broke the drought with a 15-foot jumper.
Stanford remained in control for the rest of the game
SOUTH CAROLINA 72, PURDUE 61: Markeshia Grant scored 21 points, Ieasia Walker added 17 and South Carolina beat Purdue at West Lafayette, Ind.
The Gamecocks (25-9) will face top-seeded Stanford in the regional semifinals Saturday in Fresno, Calif.
Brittany Rayburn scored 13 in her final game at Purdue (25-9). She finished her career with 1,795 points, good for sixth in school history. KK Houser led the Boilermakers with 15 points.
But Rayburn and her teammates never quite figured out South Carolina’s defense, which forced 20 turnovers.
Purdue closed to 53-46 midway through the second half, but the Gamecocks thwarted the comeback with six straight points. Purdue never got closer than eight again.