K-State women set record in 72-26 loss to UConn

DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer Published:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Kansas State coach Deb Patterson was disappointed her team didn't compete better in its record-setting performance against Connecticut.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats set a new mark for futility in the NCAA tournament in a 72-26 loss to the top-seeded Huskies on Monday night. They surpassed the previous low of 27 points by Southern against Duke in 2006.

"We were obviously dominated in every phase of the game tonight," Patterson said. "Why I couldn't tell you at this point. We didn't look like the basketball team we've been all year. That's disappointing. We were beaten by a great basketball team in a manner that we're more than capable of preventing. Tonight we just didn't get the job done in any phase of the game."

The Huskies (31-4) dominated from the start to finish, playing nearly a flawless defensive game.

"They have five players committed to the defensive effort at all times," said Brittany Chambers, who led Kansas State with 11 points. "You don't find a lot of holes. Early in the game we had some open shots and didn't convert and we started forcing things. I thought that we played right into what they wanted us to do."

The Wildcats finished with 10 field goals and shot just 18 percent from the field.

"I think it was definitely close to a perfect game, you can always do better," said UConn guard Bria Hartley, who had 13 of her 16 points in the first half. "We came out with a lot more intensity than we did last game. We used that game as motivation to play better this game."

UConn advanced to the round of 16 for the 19th straight season and will play the winner of Penn State and LSU in Kingston, R.I., on Sunday.

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."

Kansas State (20-14) was trying to reach the third round for the first time since 2002. But the Wildcats were no match for the Huskies.

"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," Patterson said. "I'm proud of the team for our season, disappointed in the end result."

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 could 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.

Chambers' pull-up jumper from the free-throw line right 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.

The Huskies led 38-10 at halftime, with the Wildcats missing 27 of their first 31 shots.

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 Kaleena 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.

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 basket by Emma Ostermann with 2:59 left gave Kansas State 26 points, but that was the last point the Wildcats would score.

It was the 17th time this season that the Huskies held an opponent under 40 points, but didn't surpass the 24 points they gave up to the College of Charleston on Dec. 21.

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Doug Feinberg can be reached at www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg