Updated at: 01/29/2013 8:37 PM
By PAT EATON-ROBB
(AP) HARTFORD, Conn. - Villanova hoped to stay with No. 3 Connecticut by running its methodical offense and hitting a lot of 3-point shots.
But the Wildcats missed their first nine attempts from behind the arc on Thursday and wound on the wrong side of a 76-43 rout.
"For us, we have to make 10 3s to stay within 15 points, not even say win the game, just stay within the game," said Villanova coach Harry Perretta.
Jesse Carey had nine points, all on 3-pointers, to lead Villanova (16-4, 5-2 Big East), which was picked to finish 10th in the Big East, but lost for just the fourth time this season.
The Wildcats, who rely on the 3-point shot for 46 percent of their field goal attempts, finished 7-of-28 from long distance.
"I think we’re a top-30 team," Perretta said. "But there is a big difference between 30th and three."
Stefanie Dolson scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Huskies (19-1, 6-1). Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 19 points, hitting five of her six 3-pointers. Freshman Breanna Stewart chipped in 14 points and six boards.
Kelly Faris opened the contest with a tip-in and the Huskies scored the first seven points.
Connecticut led just 17-10 before Villanova went ice cold. The Wildcats scored just seven more points in the half. But that also had a lot to do with what UConn was doing on defense.
"We just did a really great job of being aware, getting in passing lanes, helping on defense, rotating really well," Dolson said. "So, we’re just doing a great job of communicating with each other, helping each other and trusting each other."
UConn used a 10-0 run to stretch the lead to 27-10, led by Mosqueda-Lewis, who hit all four of her 3-point attempts in the half. Her steal and 3-point jumper gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 34-14. And was 44-14 after freshman guard Moriah Jefferson made a jumper.
Villanova turned up its defensive game, and held UConn scoreless for the last 4:31 of the first half and the first 3:07 of the second. But it was still 44-17 at the half and 47-21 when Mosqueda-Lewis broke the drought with a put-back.
"The thing we’re poor at is offense," said Perretta. "What we’re pretty good at is defense. Now you can’t tell that today, we were playing against a superior opponent."
Auriemma said it also had a lot to do with the lineups he had on the floor. Connecticut played its reserves for long stretches in the second half and occasionally had all three of its freshmen in the game at the same time.
UConn held the Wildcats to 28 percent shooting from the field. The Huskies, meanwhile, shot 50 percent. They went 6-of-11 from 3-point range for the half and 9-of-21 for the game.
The Huskies also dominated on the boards, outrebounding Villanova 48-28.
"We wanted to really contain them on the perimeter, because they are a good shooting team," said Stewart. "I think we did that, and that led to our success."
Villanova has had more success against UConn than most. Perretta has beaten the Huskies 11 times in 47 games, but has now lost 10 in a row to Geno Auriemma. The Wildcats, who came into the game tied with the Huskies for second place in the conferece, have not scored 50 in their last eight meetings.
Rachel Roberts who played high school ball in Connecticut, scored just four points, after setting career highs with 26 points and six 3-pointers in Saturday’s win over Syracuse.
Mosqueda-Lewis leads the team with 61 3-pointers this season, and came in shooting just over 49 percent from behind the arc. Faris is second on the team with 28, but failed to hit a 3-pointer in this one. She needs just two more to give her 100 for her career, a feat Mosqueda-Lewis, Bria Hartley and Caroline Doty already have accomplished.
It would be the first time UConn has had three players with 100 3-pointers playing on the same team.
Villanova leads the conference with 477 3-pointers.
UConn has now won 59 of the last 60 games it has played in Hartford, the lone loss coming in last year’s regular-season finale against Notre Dame.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)