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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hayes steps up for Huskies

Perhaps no line of questioning was more in vogue on Monday inside the Ryan Center than which UConn player would step up if the Huskies found themselves in a tight affair in the Elite Eight game against Kentucky.

Sophomore Bria Hartley, freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and junior Kelly Faris were the popular choice.

Well, when push came to shove it was the team's only senior who rose to the occasion.

Tiffany Hayes had crashed to the court after grabbing an offensive rebound and getting fouled. Hayes, who may have hit the floor more than any player in UConn history, usually bounced right back up but she was woozy enough that she was taken out of the game with 15:24 to play. Mosqueda-Lewis came in and hit both free throws.

Hayes was examined briefly by UConn's atrhletic trainer Rosemary Ragle before assuring Ragle that she was OK. Just 13 seconds later Faris was whistled for her fourth foul and UConn coach Geno Auriemma summoned Hayes back into the game.

Former UConn forward Samarie Walker hit both free throws to pull Kentucky within three points. Hayes promptly scored five points during a game-deciding 17-3 run. She finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists (one coming on a sweet pass to a streaking Kelly Faris for a layup to beat the halftime buzzer).

"I am a senior and I am supposed to be playing like this all the time," said Hayes who was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the Kingston Regional. "For me to do it in this game means even more. I am glad
my teammates we r ther to help and I am glad to be back in the Final Four."

Hayes is among the top 10 on UConn's career charts in games and minutes played, points, assists and 3-pointers so she has made her share of big plays during her career but this may have been one of the first times that Hayes needed to deliver to save UConn from a season ending defeat and she did just that."

"I am sure she has I just don't know it has been in this moment and at this time wen we really needed her," Auriemma said. "Tiffany's had a lot of great moments and a lot of memorable games at Connecticut. I don't think we would have won two national championships without her contributions but I think tonight was a little different.

"I was really upset with her and Caroline at yesterday's practice. I feel like we were a little too nonchalant like that game was already won. I made it a point of telling them that either you guys play great tonight or you are going to have to leave it up to the freshmen and sophomores. When you guys were freshmen and sophomores nobody left it up to you guys. There was just this sense in her today at shootaround that this could happen."

UConn will face Notre Dame in the first national semifinal on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. followed by Baylor and Stanford. It is the first time since 1989 that all four No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Bill McDonald said...

Last night it was sad to see Stokes so lost on offense and Auriemma purple from screaming and directing her.

At the end of the 2010-11 season, Engeln and Johnson obviously did not have it.

At the end of the 2009-2010 season, Buck obviously did not have it.

If at the end of the 2012-13 season, Jefferson and Tuck do not have it, I think questions will be raised.

Jim, is it possible the practice atmosphere is so negative that some players would rather sit on the bench than get yelled at in games on TV?

The contrast between the Big 6 and the 5 Thin Bench players is greater than night and day.

Auriemma is not a genius for identifying players like Taurasi, Tina, Maya, KML, and Stewart.

Those players are well known across the country.

Is Auriemma just having difficulty identifying role players who can actually play D1 WCBB?

8:54 AM 
Blogger VoxPox said...

My favorite Huskie= Tip Hayes!

10:34 AM 

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