History has always had a way of repeating itself with the UConn women’s basketball program.
And there are many ways of charting it; the seven national championships, 13 Final Four appearances, 18 Big East Tournament titles are the most apparent.
But you can also see it in the players that pass through the program. They often seem to possess the same characteristics, skill sets and personalities.
That came into focus again on Senior Day when senior Kelly Faris and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis reprised roles played 17 years earlier by Carla Berube and Nykesha Sales by scoring their 1,000th career points on the same day.
It was just the second time two players reached 1,000 points in the same game in program history. Berube and Sales, UConn’s all-time leading scorer until Tina Charles and Maya Moore came along, did it against Western Kentucky at the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion on Nov. 17, 1996.
Mosqueda-Lewis did it first, making two three-pointers in the first 3:57 of Saturday’s 90-30 win over Seton Hall to become the 37th player in program history to score 1,000.
And then with 6:20 to play in the game, Faris, after making a steal, drove the lane and scooped home her milestone hoop to become No. 38.
Ironically, Mosqueda-Lewis and Faris ended up leading the Huskies with 18 points.
After the game, Geno Auriemma was asked if he noticed how similar in style Mosqueda-Lewis and Faris seemed to be to Sales and Berube. He enjoyed the question.
“I do see a similarity there,” Auriemma said.
Mosqueda-Lewis, one of the nation’s top three-point specialists, scored her 1,000th point in her 64th game. Only Moore (55) and Svetlana Abrosimova (63) did quicker.
“The way Kaleena started the game was kind of a reflection of what I think all great players do,” Auriemma said. “What great players do is impose themselves on the game, right away, and continue to impose themselves on the game the entire time they are out on the floor.”
Faris, one of the most versatile players in UConn history, had to work a little harder to get it.
Once she moved within two points of the milestone with a three-pointer with 8:34 to play, she struggled to get over the top, missing a pair of threes, despite the efforts of her teammates to set screens for her and get her the ball.
Finally, she did the way she’d been designed to do – off her own steal.
“It felt good to get the 1000th point off of a steal,” Faris said. “Honestly, it just felt nice to know I had the whole team behind me. I think it’s fitting.”
In doing so, Faris became the first senior to score her 1,000th point on Senior Day since Ashley Battle in 2005.
“Kelly’s contributions are a little less noticeable, they don’t hit you right between the eyes, like those first five minutes Kaleena was on the floor [Saturday when she made three three-pointers],” Auriemma said. “Not everybody can do that and that takes kind of a special player.
“But the two of them have a lot in common; they both want to impact games, they both want to win, they are both changing their games to suit the occasion. I am hopeful that [Saturday] was an omen of things we can do down the road.”
Wha’s also clear is how close Mosqueda-Lewis and Faris are off-the-court. They are very close friends, weight-training partners. Mosqueda-Lewis wants to be the kind of player Faris has become.
You can tell by the tears Mosqueda-Lewis shed when Faris was being honored before the game and the way she is determined to emulate her.
“We wanted to make sure Kelly’s Senior Night was as special as it could be,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “When she was trying to get there [to 1,000] I was setting screens for her, trying everything I could to make sure she could get open.
“I think everyone here knows how much I look up to Kelly, how much I appreciate what she has done for me.”
Faris feels the same way about Mosqueda-Lewis and speaks to her often about how much potential she has.
“I love her to death,” Faris said. “She’s been a great friend to have and to see her grow the amount that she’s grown in one year has really opened my eyes to her.
“Sometimes, I get really frustrated if I don’t see quick change [in teammates]. That’s just me. I have to recognize it takes some people a certain amount of time or they need this or they need that [to improve].
“And within one year she’s made huge strides and I respect her for that a lot and I’m really, really proud of her because she still has two years left and is an unbelievable player and has so much more to offer.
“Kaleena has made the decision to change and that’s why I respect her so. She saw how last season ended for us and she understood why and she took it upon herself to be a different player for herself and her teammates.”