Jan. 27, 2014
By Marya Fratoni
In Sunday afternoon’s 81-53 UConn women’s basketball win over the University of South Florida Bulls, the Huskies’ starting lineup all managed to score double-digit points across the board. In particular, the contributions of Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart proved essential in giving the Huskies the edge they needed to overcome a short bench so late in the season and get the substantial win.
Hartley was on fire from the very start of the game. She was able to keep her focus and intensity consistent which enabled her to score a total of 26 points, making this her third consecutive 20-point game for the first time in her career. Hartley also netted six of UConn’s 14 three-pointers, which marked the seventh-largest team total in program history and tied the career-high she set at Rutgers last week.
Additionally, Breanna Stewart played an essential role on the court and was able to reach a total of 29 points, which included five successful three pointers. Stewart’s ability to make shots under pressure raised her confidence through the roof and enabled her to take some risks throughout the game that proved to be very successful.
With the Huskies a little short-staffed on the bench, there was a lot of room for every player to step up and make a difference on the court. Breanna Stewart can attest that stepping up for your teammates is practically ingrained in the team’s style of play.
“Being on a team and being a competitive player, you want to take on as many roles as you can and that you’re capable of,” said Stewart. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that in practice and through the rest of conference to get ready for March.”
Also, the lack of relief coming on the court puts a lot of pressure on the players to be perfect.
“There’s really no room for error,” commented Hartley. “If you’re out there and you’re making mistakes, there’s no one that can come in and relieve you. You have to be really focused and just go out there and play confidently.”
The Bulls' confidence began to deflate and cause a shift in their effective communication as UConn progressively widened the scoring gap. However, the Huskies fed off of their own positive vibe that carried with them for the whole 40 minutes. Even during the times that things weren’t going their way, the players were still supporting each other and connecting during and after the play.
“If we’re not together out there that’s when we struggle or when we’re not working well together. We kind of work on that every day in practice,” said Hartley. “You don’t want to be fighting out there on the court. That’s just a bad vibe for the team.”
Regardless that UConn was lacking in numbers, their support and positivity was a key factor to maintaining their uplifting confidence and keeping the execution sky-high, particularly in regards to Hartley’s and Stewart’s impressive performances.