Among the pantheon of stars UConn has walked down the red carpet of women’s basketball have been some pretty good three-point shooters.
When asked who was the most reliable, Geno Auriemma rolled off an impressive list: Wendy Davis, Kerry Bascom, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.
“I’ve been very fortunate at Connecticut,” Auriemma said. “We had a stretch when we went to our first Final Four in 1991 to have two kids on that team [who could make threes].”
“Wendy Davis held the three-point record in the Big East for the longest time. I thought she was the best pure shooter I have ever coached.
“In four years, Kerry Bascom missed just one shot she needed to make for us to win. The same goes for Diana [Taurasi] who would make more threes under pressure than anyone.
“Sue [Bird] wouldn’t make any threes until the pressure was on. And then she would make them all.”
But this season, sophomore Mosqueda-Lewis is making three-pointers this at a remarkable pace which may soon become historic. She was 5 of 6 on Tuesday night on her way to 19 points that helped the Huskies to a 76-43 romp over Villanova.
“Anyone who can make shots can carry your team,” Auriemma said.
Mosqueda-Lewis is 61 of 120 (50.8 percent) from beyond the arc after coming into the game second nationally to Penn State’s Maggie Lucas (50 percent) in trey accuracy.
“As long as I am being aggressive off the ball, it just makes it all come easier for me,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “It brings my confidence level up to know that I am not just scoring, but doing the other things I need to help the team win.”
She has had at least one three in each of her 19 games. And she has had five games with at least five threes. She was 6 of 13 against Syracuse on Jan. 19 at the XL Center, which was a career-high.
In her young career, she has already made 154 threes, most with same, smooth motion.
“When the ball leaves their hand you are kind of surprised when it doesn’t go in,” Auriemma said.
There is no doubt Mosqueda-Lewis, the high school player of the year in 2011, has been aided by her abundant perimeter partners that stretch defenses dangerously thin.
When Kelly Faris makes two more three-pointers, UConn will four players with at least 100 career three-pointers simultaneously for the first time ever: Faris, Mosqueda-Lewis, Bria Hartley and Caroline Doty.
And this season, center Stefanie Dolson has added the three to her arsenal. She made 4 of 10 this season, including one Tuesday.
“It’s good to have someone inside who can finish, and then Kaleena outside who is knocking in shots,” Dolson said. “It’s just a really good combination. All-in-all we have a great starting five.”
Mosqueda-Lewis normally does not need to shed the shadow a team can place on an opponent’s singular star. But she still needs to make the shot. And she has been, especially now that she’s added the dimension of being able to take the ball to the basket.
“I think she was always a versatile player, she’s just more experienced,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “With more experience you can do more things. That’s what I see, and that’s how I see their whole team evolve. As they get more experienced they are just passing the ball faster, they are shooting the ball more confidently.”
It’s gotten to the point now that Auriemma wants Mosqueda-Lewis to only think shot when the opportunity is there.
“I am always on her about never passing up an opportunity to take one,” Auriemma said. “She wants to show everyone her passing skills, like I care about her passing skills. If she misses a shot, it’s only because she’s not thinking about making it. She’s thinking pass. I never want her to think pass.”
Bird holds both the UConn and Division I record for three-point percentage. She made 49.7 percent (72 of 145) as a sophomore. No UConn player has been that close to 50 percent, with at least 35 makes, since Bird drained 46.6 percent in 2001-02.
Davis holds the UConn mark for made three-pointers in a season (107 in 1991-92). Renee Montgomery had 99 in 2008-09. Mosqueda-Lewis’ 93 last season ranks third.
“I feel more in the flow when I am doing other things well on the floor,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “When I am playing good defense or getting rebounds, it just seems to make things go a lot smoother for me offensively.