Breanna Stewart, unbeaten Huskies dominate 16-seed Prairie View

STORRS, Conn. -- Prairie View A&M outscored UConn by seven points over the final 16 minutes of their first-round NCAA tournament game Sunday.

Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, they were down by 50 points after the first 24 minutes and lost 87-44 to the defending national champions.

"I think it was something we were lacking and that was the confidence in the first 20 minutes and that's what the girls came out and displayed in the second half," Prairie View coach Dawn Brown said. "I told them, `You guys are going to have to play your hearts out in the last 20 minutes. And that's what they did."

LaReahn Washington scored 13 points to lead Prairie View and freshman Alexus Parker added nine. The Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champions finished their season 14-18.

Breanna Stewart keyed a balanced offense with 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead five Huskies in double figures.

Moriah Jefferson had 14 points, four assists and five steals for UConn (35-0). Bria Hartley had 16 points.

"To be able to come into this game and have everyone contribute in some way is only going to help us going forward," Stewart said. "It makes us hard to guard."

UConn has won 41 straight games, the third longest streak in school history, dating to a win in the first round of last year's tournament.

The Huskies scored the game's first 15 points and held Prairie View without a basket for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game.

Stefanie Dolson made the first three baskets, and had eight of the first 10 points. She finished with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Jefferson gave the Huskies their first 30-point lead at 42-12 after rebounding a Stewart miss late in the first half, and UConn led 44-12 at intermission.

They opened the second half on a 16-0 run and led 73-23 after a 3-pointer by Hartley.

"We really wanted to come out and we were excited to play so I think we really wanted to get out to a good start," Hartley said.

The Huskies held Prairie view to 25 percent shooting (16 of 64) and outrebounded the Lady Panthers 52-28, including 44-12 in the first half.

The Lady Panthers were just the ninth team to get a tournament berth with a losing record, after winning their fourth consecutive SWAC conference title. The team lost its first 11 games this season before turning things around. They fell to 0-6 in the NCAA tournament.

Parker called it a valuable learning experience.

"I learned that when you're down by so much, you have to stay with it," she said. "You have to stay positive about every situation and every play. I learned how to play with the team."

Brown said that bodes well for the future of a team that features just one senior.

"One thing I can be sure to tell you guys is that we will be back here," she told her players. "But the next time we come back, this is a learning experience for you, so when we come in this locker room the next time ... it doesn't matter where we are, we will not have the same result."