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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Balanced offensive attack powers UConn into Elite Eight

A year ago UConn's NCAA tournament run was pretty much a chance to see how many points the wondrous Maya Moore could score.

With the graduation of Moore, UConn's all-time leading scorer, the Huskies have a different offensive approach this season. That was never more evident than during Sunday's Sweet 16 win over Penn State when five different UConn players scored in double figures and four players took at least 10 shots.

"We wanted to make sure that this was a team thing instead of looking around for somebody to have a big night, some body is going to get 30-35 or somebody is going to put up ridiculous numbers," Auriemma said. "This is going to have to be a team thing, our team was going to have to play great defense, our team was going to have to execute offensively. When you look at the stat sheet it tells some of the story but this is one of the more complete games that we have played in a while. It couldn't come at a better time."

Bria Hartley led the way with 20 points as she has scored in double figures in all eight of her NCAA tournament games since arriving at UConn. Kelly Faris added a season-high 15 points, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 12 points (and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double) while Stefanie Dolson and Tiffany Hayes had 10 points each.

"It is one of those things when we had to have a complete effort, we had a bunch of guys in foul trouble and a bunch of us stepped up at the right time," Faris said."We've had a few different times this season when we have gotten that."

It was the seventh time this season that five UConn players scored in double figures but first time since a Jan. 16 win over North Carolina.

Count Penn State sophomore guard Maggie Lucas among those impressed by UConn's performance.

"Hat's off to UConn, they are an unbelievable program and they were the better team today," Lucas said.
"UConn made us better today and we wish them luck for the rest of the tournament

"They are pretty systematic, everyone knows their role and they move the ball until they get a perfect shot."

Hartley didn't mince any words as she said she felt that Faris' block of a Maggie Lucas jumper and highlight-variety finish resulting in a transition layup was "probably the most exciting play of the game."

In typical Faris fashion, she deflected credit elsewhere.

"It was fun. Those are the things that add to the entire game," Faris said. "Caroline (Doty) did a great job of chasing it down and getting it out to me. I got up and they were all coming at me so that was one of more fun plays in the game." 

Among those watching UConn play Penn State likely none had a similar reaction than Kentucky sophomore forward Samarie Walker.

Walker played 17 games for the Huskies last season before deciding to transfer. Walker sat with her teammates and took in part of the UConn game before heading into the locker room to prepare for their own regional semifinal against Gonzaga.

“I feel like I got that out of the way watching them play,” Walker said of the surreal situation of playing against her former college teammates in Tuesday’s regional final. “I had to put that aside because I played with them before and once I did that, I'm was OK. It was a little weird at first thinking I was just there a year ago but after we watched them play, it was all about what we had to do on the court for the next game.”

Walker came off the bench and had 16 points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes in Kentucky’s 79-62 win. Now all that stands between the Wildcats and realizing their goal of reaching the Final Four is Connecticut.
“We had a big sign that said Denver and Final Four that is in our locker room that we walked past every day going to practice,” Walker said “I feel like we are doing it now.”

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