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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chong's delivers monster first half for UConn

While she may be somewhat quiet when she is away from the basketball court, UConn freshman guard Saniya Chong's game speaks volumes when it is time to play.

After making a couple of huge shots in Monday's win over Stanford Chong looked very much like a freshman in Friday's game at Maryland. She was timid, unsure of herself and caught in the dreaded "should I or shouldn't I? mode.

Even though he was without the services of All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and key reserve Morgan Tuck, UConn coach Geno Auriemma didn't even summon Chong off the bench in the second half against Maryland.

I've seen some of the best players in UConn history get into a funk when they were benched by Auriemma but watching Chong's impressive first-half performance against Penn State on Sunday you would never know how much she had struggled just two days earlier.

Chong had 13 points (hitting 4 of 5 shots), four rebounds and an assist in the final nine minutes of the half as the Huskies turned a two-point deficit into a 15-point lead at the break.

“Last game I didn't really contribute so much,” Chong said. “Coming into this game I knew I had to create, I had to do what they needed me to do so coming out, hitting a couple of 3's, if that is what they needed that is what I am going to do.

“When a teammate is in trouble or needs help, I am right there. I know if things don't go my way, they will help me out. I think it helps a lot, games like this being up by a lot of points and then dropping a lot (of points off the lead), it was such a good experience for me being in that situation, knowing what to do.”

Chong finished with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 27 minutes in the 71-52 win over Penn State. Her teammates and coaches knew that the game’s outcome could have been quite a bit different if not for Chong’s impressive first half.

“She has great instincts,” Auriemma said. “You think Moriah Jefferson was fast, that was a blur going to the basket that one drive. She doesn't hesitate, we constantly encourage her to be more aggressive and when you are like that; if you play a bad game it doesn't bother you.
“She is a really good basketball player. Saniya has great talent but her instinct help that talent come out even more. We have a pretty good player and I want her to keep getting better. She has a lot of (guts) to make that 3 from the wing, same thing with the Stanford game and she is pretty bright.”

Bria Hartley, who delivered some pretty impressive performances against ranked teams when she was a freshman, liked what she saw from Chong against the Lady Lions.

"She has great instincts and she is aggressive so when she is aggressive like that, she can make plays," Hartley said. "We all know she can knock in shots so if she is doing this consistently we think she is going to be pretty good."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite the short bench due to injuries, this week has showed that 1 player can star in 1 game but not in others - and UConn still defeats top 15 teams by 10+. God help the NCAA if 5 UConn players play their best in the same game on a regular basis.

6:58 PM 

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