"Help me!" Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis screamed. "Help me!"
"I was scared," Bria Hartley would say later, after No. 1 UConn had overwhelmed No. 3 Stanford 76-57, yet before any definitive word on the severity of Mosqueda-Lewis' arm injury was discerned.
Scared silent. Everyone at Gampel was. As Mosqueda-Lewis lay there on the court, banging her foot in agony, the only words to be heard were Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer talking to her team during one of the most uncomfortable stoppages in play in UConn history.
This was the greatest perimeter shooter in women's college basketball.
This could be UConn's dreams of another perfect season crashing. If not crashing, certainly made more difficult.
"We were shocked," freshman Saniya Chong said.
With 18:08 left in a tight game broken open by the depth of the Huskies' lineup, Mosqueda-Lewis grabbed a rebound off a three-point miss by Stanford's Kailee Johnson. The Cardinal's star, Chiney Ogwumike, fell to the ground. She appeared to trip up the UConn junior, who went down hard. Scary hard. The screams were blood-curdling.
This was the end of the court where Shea Ralph screamed so brutally in March 1997 and where Kalana Greene went down in December 2007. Rosemary Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer, rushed across the floor to aid Mosqueda-Lewis. The medical staff arrived. Eventually, KML was brought to her feet, still crying, her elbow bent as if held in an invisible sling.
"I was just trying to get offensive rebounding position," said Ogwumike, who was charged with a foul on the play. "There was a post in front of me, a post behind me, I got pushed in the back and fell. I think Kaleena was behind me. I just know I heard her elbow [hit]. She's one of my closest friends. I wish the best for her. It was unfortunate, but there were a lot of bodies flying."
After the game, Mosqueda-Lewis was still at Gampel, in the locker room, in the training room, not in the hospital. That seemed to be a good sign. Hartley said she talked to KML after the game. "She seems all right now." Again that seemed to be a good sign. "Seems" and "is," of course, are two different matters. "Seems" does not have a medical degree.
"They're just going to keep evaluating her tonight and then [Tuesday morning after an MRI] see how she responds," coach Geno Auriemma said. "They really don't know anything right now."
It turns out there were two — not one — points of trauma.
"She landed with her palm on the floor and then when her arm bent and her elbow hit the floor," Auriemma said. "There are two separate things they are trying to figure out. I guess we'll know more after [Tuesday morning]."
Auriemma's description could lead speculation ranging to an injury to the wrist, up through the forearm to the elbow. Certainly her elbow banged hard. We won't speculate beyond saying it was described by a UConn spokesman for now as a right-arm injury.
"I hope Kaleena is all right," VanDerveer said, opening her post-game remarks. "It's always sad to see someone go down. She's a great player."
The Huskies got two big threes from Chong in the first half. With Breanna Stewart in early foul trouble, the Huskies got 10 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks from Kiah Stokes in what Auriemma called the best game of her college career. The Huskies got 11 points from Morgan Tuck in the second half. And while Hartley's 20 points led the Huskies in scoring, it was UConn's depth that led the victory.
Yes, it all demonstrated how far UConn can go without one specific player, but let's be honest. Mosqueda-Lewis, the UConn single-season leader in threes and a preseason All-American, can change games by herself with her perimeter shot.
"When I saw it, I could tell her elbow had hit the floor," Auriemma said. "I didn't see what happened before that. We've all been there at some point. It hurts. Kaleena's not one to be injured, so I'm sure it's all new to her.
"Some people scream and yell like they've been run over by a car. Then it turns out to be nothing. They're panicking. They're scared."
What is it with that area under the basket at that end of Gampel Pavilion? It is the site of so many great UConn runs in the first halves of games. The Huskies hit teams so hard and fast they don't even know what happened. The Huskies are up 30 points in a blink of an eye. Yet occasionally, this Bermuda Triangle of hard court strikes back.
This was the spot where Ralph blew out her knee with 12 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half of a 103-35 early round NCAA Tournament game in 1997. Ralph, now an assistant with the Huskies, had tried to establish herself on the baseline under the basket when her right knee buckled and twisted. It was awful.
"I saw it perfectly," Auriemma said that night. "Shea went to catch a pass and her body went one way and her foot didn't. I've seen it happen 100 times in practice and kids always get up. There was no moisture on the floor. If anything, I wish there was because her foot might have slipped instead."
Instead there would be the moisture of tears. They would fall again in December 2007. Renee Montgomery took it especially hard as her good friend took a pass from Ketia Swanier with 2:44 left in the first half of a 97-39 rout of South Carolina. What appeared to be a typical smooth, slashing Greene fast break did not turn out that way.
"She kind of came to a jump stop, the knee was straight and locked up," Auriemma said that night. "[Demetress Adams] rotated over and her knee hit Kalana's knee and kind of buckled it."
Neither Ralph nor Greene played the rest of those seasons and now the question hangs heavy. How long will Mosqueda-Lewis be out? Days? Weeks? We heard the screams. We know the pain. We don't know the severity of her arm/elbow injury. For now, UConn fans do know what it feels like to take an elbow to the gut.
"I don't think she'll be playing this weekend [at Maryland and at Penn State]," Auriemma said almost casually at the end of his press conference.