ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Geno Auriemma reached another milestone in record fashion.
The Hall of Famer became the second coach to achieve 100 victories in the NCAA Tournament as his UConn Huskies pulled off a record rout of Texas, 105-54, on Saturday in the Sweet 16. Auriemma joined Pat Summitt, who finished with 112 victories in her career, as the only two coaches in men’s or women’s basketball to reach that milestone.
“That’s lots of wins, 100 wins in the NCAA tournament,” Auriemma said. “Some people don’t get to play in the NCAA tournament ever or play a couple games. We’ve been pretty fortunate. We didn’t win anything in the NCAA in our first couple years.”
The Huskies stand three victories away from a third straight national championship and 10th overall. UConn will face Dayton in the regional finals after the seventh-seeded Flyers upset Louisville 82-66.
Breanna Stewart was a key reason why the Huskies set the NCAA record for margin of victory in the regionals and beyond. The junior star had 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“(Today) was a lot of fun,” Stewart said. “Right from the start shots were going in and we were being aggressive. … Texas has a big presence inside, big post players. We knew if we got them moving a little bit, we could get any shot we wanted.”
The Huskies shot a blistering 56 percent from the field and became the eighth team to put up more than 100 points in the regionals.
“Like I said to the coaching staff at Texas, when you shoot the ball as well as we did, we’re a really hard team to play against,” Auriemma said.
UConn (35-1) led 26-19 midway through the first half before blowing the game open with a 44-9 run spanning the half. The burst started with 13 straight points by the Huskies.
UConn led 52-24 at the half and scored 18 points in the first 3:30 of the second half to finish off the run.
Stewart surpassed her previous NCAA Tournament best of 29 points before leaving the game for good with just over 9 minutes left. Moriah Jefferson added a career-high 25 points — hitting 10 of her 12 shots — for the Huskies, who have advanced to the regional final for 10 straight seasons. They have been to the Final Four a record seven straight years.
“I can’t say enough about these two guys,” Auriemma said. “It seemed like they were on a whole different level than anyone else who was playing. You almost come to expect that from Stewie at this time of year. To see Moriah do what she did today, she’s come a long way in two years. I couldn’t be happier for these guys.”
Texas was making its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2004. Coach Karen Aston has a young roster and the Longhorns may not have to wait long to get back. Ariel Atkins scored 11 to lead Texas (24-11). The Longhorns tried to slow the Huskies down with their big lineup of 6-foot-7 Imani Stafford-McGee and 6-5 Kelsey Lang. Aston went with the pair at the first media timeout and her team trailing 13-6. The Longhorns were within seven points with 9:36 left before the speedy Huskies made their run.
“They are a tremendous basketball team, and I say that in every sense of the word,” Aston said. “They play the game at a high level on the offensive and defensive end. It was not a good day for us. We weren’t patient enough to not let them have extra possessions. Our defense wasn’t as connected as it needed to be.”
Texas: The Longhorns haven’t beaten UConn in the six meetings, including three games in the NCAA Tournament. … With the early season injury to McGee-Stafford and the loss of Nneka Enemkpali midway through the year, Texas hasn’t had been at full strength all season.
UConn: Auriemma improved to 100-17 overall in the NCAA Tournament in a 30-year span. …Stewart has already had success in Albany, winning the New York State title her senior season in high school at the Times Union Center, which is hosting the NCAA Tournament. … Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is now just six 3-point shots away from the NCAA career record held by Laurie Koehn of Kansas State and Heather Butler of UT-Martin. They both hit 392. … This was seventh time UConn has broken 100-point in NCAA Tournament.
CLOSE CALLS: Texas won its first two games by a combined five points. That’s the smallest margin of victory for teams that made the Sweet 16. By contrast, UConn won its two contests by 92 points.
RECORD BREAKERS: Notre Dame and Louisiana Tech held the previous record for margin of victory in the regionals and beyond. Both teams won by 44 points, Louisiana Tech in 1990 and the Irish in 2012. … The 105 points is also the second-highest total scored in the Sweet 16 and later. Only Stanford has put up more points, getting 114 in 1990 against Arkansas.
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