March 24, 2014
By Marya Fratoni
In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team was expected to beat Prairie View University by a solid margin. Just as predicted, the Huskies held Prairie View to 44 points and score 87 of their own, which almost gave them a 2-1 point ratio over their opponents. Although it was evident the Huskies started off not playing their very best, they were still able to keep Prairie View out of the Second Round of the tournament.
“At this time of year, you just want to get the first one out of the way and do a lot of good things,” said Head Coach Geno Auriemma. “You know you’re not going to play your best game of the year, because when you haven’t played for two weeks it’s not easy to come out and be in game mode.”
Regardless, the team was able to get more comfortable after their hiatus as the game went on. Sophomore Forward Breanna Stewart showed her maturity and composure when she was able to turn her game around and grab a total of 10 rebounds and finish with 19 points for her tenth double-double of the year.
Auriemma noted how the progress of Stewart’s game has become evident from last year until this year: “With her it’s just fun to see it develop. Even when she’s struggling now, you know what’s coming next. Whereas last year she would let it effect the whole game for her, now that’s not the case.”
Stewart and her teammates were able to shift their offensive style when the defense from Prairie View changed throughout the game. “We wanted to emphasize getting the ball in the paint and getting a lot of touches in the paint and I think we did that really well to start off the game,” said Senior Center Stefanie Dolson. “They started packing in a little more so we started getting more outside shots from Kaleena and Bria and Moriah.” It certainly helps to be able to score from anywhere.
Not only does it help to be able to adjust and put the ball away from anywhere on the court, but it’s also a great advantage that the entire starting lineup can have their fair share of contribution to every game. When you have five threats on the court at a time, most games are practically a guaranteed win.
“You can just see how well we play together and looking at the stat sheet you can see that we all contributed and did a little to help each other out. It’s great when you have a team like this where everyone can contribute and everyone can play really well,” said Senior Guard Bria Hartley.
UConn continues its quest for a record ninth National Championship on Tuesday evening when it hosts Saint Joseph's at 7 p.m. The Hawks, a nine seed in the Tournament, defeated eighth-seeded Georgia, 67-57, to advance to the Second Round and face top-ranked UConn.