by Spencer Mayfield
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma recorded his 100th NCAA Tournament victory when UConn defeated Texas 105-54 to advance to the Elite Eight on Saturday.
Auriemma became the second coach to reach the 100-win milestone and he is only trailing former Tennessee head coach Pat Summit who has 114 NCAA Tournament wins. Against Texas, like so many other games, Auriemma was only focused on winning the game rather than any milestones.
“I wasn’t aware of the 100 [win] thing,” Auriemma said. “I was aware that if we won today we get to play Louisville or Dayton on Monday night. This time of the year the only thing that you worry about is whether or not your team is going to play as well as they are capable of playing.”
The Huskies certainly played the way that they are capable against Texas led by juniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson.
Stewart was once again a standout on the court as like many of the players Auriemma has coached during his career. She led all scorers with 31 points in addition to a game high 12 rebounds and 7 assists.
Jefferson scored 25 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. With the starting lineup combining for 93 points, Auriemma did not have to worry about his biggest fear during the NCAA Tournament.
“My biggest fear during the NCAA Tournament is that there is going to come a day and you are not going to play well and what you’ve done all year is going to slip through your fingers in one 40 minute game,” Auriemma said.
UConn was in control of the game like many others this season, as they have been winning games this year by an average of 42 points. The Huskies certainly showed their opponents no sign of letting the game slip out of their control.
“They are a very good basketball team,” Texas guard Ariel Atkins said. “Playing against them you can tell they have a winning culture. They are very well coached and have a very good team. They are just playing at a high level right now.”
UConn senior class of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes has been a part of 19 UConn NCAA Tournament victories in their careers, including two national championships. Over the four-year span of their careers success has always been an expectation that starts from Auriemma and is passed down to his players.
“It’s awesome being a part of something like that,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “It’s not surprising coming from our coach and what he’s expected from his players in the past and what he has built here.”
Every UConn NCAA Tournament win has come under Auriemma who has built the program into a national power over his 30 years of coaching. Auriemma prepares his players for postseason success the moment they step on campus.
“I think his expectations and the preparation that he does with us [prepare us for the postseason],” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “Since your freshman year he is constantly pushing you and making it so it’s like a tournament game everyday in practice.
With a chance to reflect on the milestone, Auriemma recognizes how much he has been able to accomplish at UConn.
“That’s a lot of wins in the NCAA Tournament,” Auriemma said. “Some people don’t get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament ever. We are pretty fortunate.”