DURHAM, N.C.

Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies always seem to thrive on the big stage.

Tuesday night was no different as the No. 1 team in the country turned its latest showdown into another rout, beating second-ranked Duke 83-61.

“I think these are the reasons we come to Connecticut, to play in the big games,” said Breanna Stewart, who led the Huskies with 24 points and 11 rebounds. “We have a huge target on our back and teams will always give us their best run. That’s what you want as a competitor.”

The victory over Duke was the Huskies’ fourth over a ranked team this season. They’ve beaten Stanford, Maryland and Penn State with relative ease, with each game decided way before the final buzzer. UConn has always excelled in 1-2 matchups, winning 15 of the 18 games they’ve played in.

What’s scary for the rest of the women’s basketball landscape is that the first three wins came with the Huskies (11-0) not at full strength. Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis injured her elbow in the victory over Stanford and missed the next eight games. She showed no rust against Duke, hitting a career-high seven 3-pointers.

This was the seventh straight victory for the Huskies in the series with Duke. The previous six were decided by an average of nearly 30 points.

Chelsea Gray had 13 points and Haley Peters finished with 11 for Duke (10-1), which had its 24-game winning streak at Cameron snapped — a run that dated to UConn’s last visit in 2011.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do defensively,” said coach Joanne P. McCallie, a former Brunswick High School hoop standout. “We didn’t rebound the way we need to rebound. And we showed little patience on offense at critical times.

“I know people like to make a big deal about it because it’s No. 1 and No. 2 and all of that,” said McCallie. “I think the bigger deal is the Final Four. That’s the biggest deal and trying to pursue a national championship at that level and this helps us in our journey to get better and figure things out.”



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