ALBANY, N.Y. -- Connecticut is starting to look unbeatable. Again. UConn didn't merely beat a talented team from the tough Big 12 Conference in the NCAA regional semifinal Saturday, the Huskies humiliated Texas -- the same way they regularly humiliate the bottom-dwellers of their own American Athletic Conference.
The 105-54 score sends a message, as if one needed to be sent, that this UConn team, despite a loss in the second game of the season, is as dominant as any of coach Geno Auriemma's previous nine national championship squads.
The Huskies' 105 points are a program best in the Sweet 16 and beyond in the NCAA tournament. The 51-point rout also marked the largest margin of victory in the Sweet 16 and beyond in the tournament.
And do-everything forward Breanna Stewart and quicksilver guard Moriah Jefferson combined for 56 points, more than any duo in the tournament.
Stewart, the 6-foot-4 forward who has led the Huskies to their last two championships, showed she's bent on a third, with 31 points in 31 minutes. Her line: 11-of-16 from the field, 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, 7 of 8 free throws, 12 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.
Jefferson was just as impressive, hitting 10 of 12 shots to finish with 25 points.
But as impressive as UConn hitting the century mark was, the reason they won so big, yet again, was defense. The Huskies forced 18 Texas turnovers and blocked 10 shots. That, as Texas found out, is hard to beat.
Key stat: In a tournament marked by down-to-the-wire dogfights, with nine games so far decided by three points or fewer, the Huskies are outliers. The blowout, which saw UConn grab a 40-point lead with 17:11 to play, marked the 33rd time in 36 games that UConn won by more than 20.
Turning point: With her team leading 26-19 with 9:13 left in the half, Stewart sank two foul shots, and UConn switched into a zone that threw Texas off its already tentative rhythm. Texas turned over the ball twice, leading to a pair of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis free throws and a 3-pointer, and twice more after a UT timeout, sending UConn on a 24-2 run that put the Huskies into Monday night's regional final long before halftime.
Key player: Kiah Stokes. Despite a turnover-plagued start, Texas managed to stay close to the Huskies early by subbing in 6-5 center Kelsey Lang after the first TV timeout. Lang and fellow big Imani McGee-Stafford caused problems for UConn and created driving lanes for Texas wing players. Auriemma countered by inserting Stokes at the 11:52 mark, commencing a block party; led by Stokes, UConn rejected five Longhorn shots in a two-minute span, and UConn's length denied Texas passes into the post -- helping set off UConn's game-changing run.
How it was won: UConn started things with better defense, forcing all those turnovers, and sealed it by hitting 10 of its first 14 3-point shots. This team is pretty good at basketball.
What's next: Auriemma's squad vies for its eighth straight Final Four trip Monday night at Albany's Times-Union Center against either third-seeded Louisville or No. 7 Dayton. One incentive, besides the chance at a third consecutive national championship, and 10th title overall? A trip to Tampa (Saturday temperature: 71 degrees) from the Northeast (Albany game-time temp: 27).