Freshmen impressive in first game
The final numbers from UConn's season-opening 103-39 win over the College of Charleston were pretty impressive - 40 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 7 steals and 3 blocked shots - and that was just from the three freshmen.
Breanna Stewart had a team-high 21 points, matching the number Maya Moore had in her first game. It was the most since Jen Rizzotti’s 23 points back in 1992.When the final numbers were crunched, the 40 points by the three freshmen were the most for a group of first-year players making their debut with the Huskies since the Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson and former Huskies Samarie Walker, Lauren Engeln and Michala Johnson also netted 40 points against Holy Cross in 2010. The last class to open with more than 40 points is the Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams led class which totaled 43 against Duke back in 1998.
“We had two exhibition games but this is the first game that really counts,” said Morgan Tuck, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. “I was excited to get out there because I feel like this is my first real college game.”
Stewart, who was 8 of 11 from the field, and had five rebounds and four steals, said the magnitude of the moment hit her as UConn coach Geno Auriemma addressed the team in the locker room before the game.
“The two exhibition games I think eased us into it because we took them as real games,” Stewart said. “Once we were in the locker room Coach was talking to us right before they went out on the court and that was like when the season is really starting. We wanted to come out and start with a win.”
That was never really in question.
Jefferson finished with four points, four rebounds and five of the Huskies’ 32 assists. The three freshmen all played between 22-23 minutes and figure to have significant roles during the Huskies’ bid for an eight national title.Auriemma joked that in more than half of his time at UConn he has boasted that his freshmen are among his best players.
“I say that a lot, don't I?” Auriemma said. (That) means that when they get here and by the time I coach them to be juniors they (stink). That is not always a good sign when you freshmen are your best players year after year after year but the truth of the matter is that these three freshmen have really good basketball instincts so when they are out on the floor they make things happen. No matter how old you are, you can be here 10 years and not be able to make some of plays these three make. “
Auriemma loves Stewart's unselfishness but he probably loves her pure scoring ability even more - a point he drove home shortly after official practice began last month.
"We are making the passes because we are all looking to make the extra passes," Stewart said. "Coach told me once try not to lead the nation in assists which I guess I appreciate but I am always looking for the open man."
Stewart had one assist in Sunday's game and took 11 shots. That's a ratio that would be just fine with Auriemma.