Freshmen look to build on strong effort
Touted as one of the best recruiting classes ever signed by UConn, the trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck certainly looked the part as they combined for 40 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and 7 steals in a season-opening win over the College of Charleston.
However, as time went on so did the challenges that they faced. There were physical ailments like the bone bruise in Tuck's right knee which kept her out of four games, Stewart's sprained ankle which forced her to miss a pair of games and a stomach bug which sapped so much of Jefferson's energy. Then there were the mental roadblocks they all faced.
After weeks of peaks and valleys, the three freshmen are ready to be consistent, efficient producers for the third-ranked Huskies. They seemed to take a step in the right direction against Providence last night.
Jefferson had a career-high 13 points (making 6 of 7 shots from the field) to go with five steals. She drew praise from UConn coach Geno Auriemma for finally going north and south with the ball in her hands than dribbling laterally which has prevented her from aggressively attacking the basket.
Stewart had 13 points and 10 rebounds to register her fourth double-double of the season while Tuck chipped in with six points and two rebounds.
"We really stepped it up in the second half," Stewart said. "We need to play better, we need to play more consistently throughout the whole game. We got into a nice rhythm in the second half and hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the games this season."
It wasn't all smooth sailing. Stewart showed her displeasure when she missed a pair of layups in the second half and Stewart was not thrilled that she missed seven of her 11 shot attempts.
"I should know how to finish around the basket but I just have to make the shots," Stewart said. "I know I can make the shots but I just have to go make them."
Stewart was much happier about the impressive game from Jefferson, her roommate.
"It was great that she was bringing the ball up and going down the middle of the court towards the basket," Stewart said. "She is so quick that she can get past anybody, get to the basket and finish shots."
Stewart wasn't the only one who noticed Jefferson's aggressive mindset in the game.
"She is gradually getting better and better," UConn senior guard/forward Kelly Faris said. "It is a good sign. You can watch her, she is kind of directing thigs on the court, trying to take things underneath her own wing and it is good to see her hit shots, drive to the basket. She is doing a lot of different things right now and I think she is handling it pretty well."