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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DeShields, Stewart star for U.S.

UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields had 16 points in 19 minutes while UConn commit Breanna Stewart added 14 points, three rebounds, two blocks as the United States defeated Russia 76-53 to improve to 2-0 in pool play at the FIBA U-19 World Championships.

Duke incoming freshman Elizabeth Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds while UConn rising sophomore Bria Hartley had 10 points and five steals. The U.S. stands alone in Pool B with a 2-0 mark and will wrap up preliminary round play against 0-2 Argentina on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.

The U.S. should secure the top seed out of Pool B and will play the third-place finisher in Pool A (which will be the winner of Saturday's China/Egypt game) in the second round of pool play.

Speaking of Hartley, she is a co-captain of the U.S. team along with Tennessee incoming freshman Ariel Massengale.

Hartley's UConn teammate Stefanie Dolson earned praise from U.S. coach and former UConn star Jen Rizzotti for her defensive play against talented Russian star Ksenia Tikonenko.

"She (Dolson) is probably averaging a point a minute because she’s not playing a lot because of her fouls. But she made (Tikonenko) work pretty hard today. Although she got into foul trouble and didn’t play a lot, she kept her from getting in the flow. Again, we were able to get our depth to disrupt her. (Tikonenko) is a phenomenal player and I thought we did a great job defensively on her."


Veteran post DeMya Walker was cut by the WNBA's Connecticut Sun on Friday.

Walker, picked up by Connecticut in the 2010 dispersal draft after the Sacramento Monarchs folded, did not play in the last three games and fell behind former UConn forward/center Jessica Moore in the rotation. Walker appeared in 10 games for the Sun this season and averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8 minutes of action.

"It was a mutual parting of the ways," Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault said in a statement. "She wanted to go some place where she had an opportunity to play more. We obviously were going in a different direction with our roster. Jessica Moore was going to be in the rotation. This gives us a chance to bring in a young post to develop for the future."

Former North Carolina star Jessica Breland tweeted that she "just finished packing for Connecticut ... Can't wait to meet my new teammates."

Breland was taken with the first pick of the second round in April's WNBA draft by Minnesota and her rights were traded to New York. She played in nine games for the Liberty and averaged 2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 7.7 minutes per game. She was waived to make room for former DePaul star Felicia Chester, who ironically was selected with the pick after Breland in the draft.

Breland, a 6-foot-3 forward, was being touted as a potential lottery pick before she was sidelined with cancer. Breland missed the entire 2009-10 season. She returned and averaged 12.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a senior for the Tar Heels.

With the news that Minnesota Lynx forward/center Rebekkah Brunson has been selected to replace the injured Candace Parker in the Western Conference starting lineup for tomorrow's All-Star game, eight of the 10 starters played collegiately in the Big East including the entire Western Conference starting five as Brunson, a former Georgetown star, joins UConn graduates Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi in the starting lineup. The Eastern Conference starting lineup features another former Husky in Tina Charles as well as Angel McCoughtry and Cappie Pondexter, who starred at Louisville and Rutgers respectively.

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