Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Veterans stepped up for UConn

Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was named the most outstanding player in the Big East tournament while she was joined on the all-tournament team by sophomores Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson. Those honors were very much deserved but UConn would not have won its fifth straight Big East title without the contributions of its upperclassmen.

Notre Dame was within three points following a Kayla McBride 3-pointer with 8:45 left and considering that the Huskies failed to seal the deal in two regular-season games against the Fighting Irish, it was a huge stretch for the collective psyche of the Connecticut squad.

Senior Tiffany Hayes and juniors Caroline Doty and Kelly Faris each contributed in different ways. Hayes had three rebounds and was 4 of 4 from the line, Faris had a huge 3 with 3 minutes left, added two free throws and a rebound while Doty had two rebounds and two assists to help UConn to its 18th Big East tournament title.

"I thought she (Faris) was going to go out and make a couple of plays, hit a couple of shots but I never imagined that they would be those two the way they came about and what they meant," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I never imagined that but people who follow our team, Kelly Faris has lost one postseason game since eighth grade and that was last year in Final Four so she knows what it takes to win in March.

"Tiffany's taken a bunch of hits, rightly so, because she just hasn't played well in March when you really need her and she lost it a little (Tuesday). I think Tiffany grew up a lot, she got it back, you could see the look on her face and she got it back. All the doubts seemed to go away, all the frustration seemed to go away. You can't keep relying on Kaleena Lewis, you can't keep relying on Bria and Stefanie. At some point Tiffany Hayes and Kelly Faris, because they have been here and because they have been to the Final Four and won national championships they need to set the tone."

Hayes certainly paid the price. She sliced her thumb diving into press row after a loose ball in the semifinals and went down with an apparent knee injury in the second half but after getting treatment, she returned to help the Huskies finish off Notre Dame.

"All of us are beat up, a lot of us have bumps, bruises and scratches everywhere but when you work hard like that it is going (to happen), you would rather have bumps and bruises with a win rather than a loss."

Faris was on the receiving end of a lecture from Auriemma and received a reminder that she can't just be a passer and screener where UConn is on offense.

"There was a little bit of confusion in the St. John's game whether I was supposed to shoot or not and we kind of figured it out," Faris said. "I got a better idea of when and where I should shoot the ball and when I shouldn't. I don't necessarily have a green light. I am not a volume shooter, we have those on our team but I just have to be smart when I can and when I can't.

"That (3-pointer with 3 minutes left) was a better decision on my part than I have been making for the past few games, I think it has to come within the offense. Everybody else was hitting earlier so they were going after them and leaving me open. I have to give it to the rest of my teammates, they are keeping their defender honest and I am allowing them to play off of me so that is where I have to step up and actually hit some shots."

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