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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Dolson displays 3-point range in UConn's opener

When Stefanie Dolson's first 3-point attempt of the season was dead, solid, perfect it was no surprise to her teammates or her coaches. When her second on also was on target, UConn opponents must have been just thrilled at another aspect of the UConn offensive juggernaut to contend with.

"She does it in practice every day so I am not surprised by it," said UConn sophomore point guard Moriah Jefferson said. "She has been doing it in practice every day."

Dolson came to UConn with the ability to consistently hit the 15-foot jumper but has been working on gradually increasing her range. After not making a 3-pointer in her first two seasons Dolson made eight during her junior season including three against Wake Forest.

"I have shooting great in practice so I figured why not try it in the game," Dolson said.

The 6-foot-5 Dolson not only made the two 3's but both were assisted by the 6-foot-4 Breanna Stewart. Stewart also has 3-point range as she hit 28 treys as a freshman.

"It changes a lot because when they know we can shoot they have to come out and help which opens up room for the other players to post up," Dolson said. "If we couldn't shoot it, they would just sag off so it just helps keep the floor spaced out and make sure we can points in the paint."

Stewart did not make a 3-pointer in the season opener or in either of the exhibition games but it is a shot she is also comfortable taking.

"Both of us can shoot the 3 and if you leave it open we are going to shoot the 3 and we are going to make it, Stewart said. "It makes it really fun because you are not just isolated in one area, you are not just on the block from the perimeter and you are able to move around, when you can move all five people all around the court, it is hard to guard."

Neither UConn coach Geno Auriemma nor Hartford's Jen Rizzotti, who coached Dolson on the U.S. U-18 team in 2010 and U-19 squad in 2011, were surprised to see Dolson launching up shots from beyond the 3-point line.

"That is something that has been kind of in the works from last year until the present," Auriemma said. "She has been more and more comfortable shooting the ball every day. It doesn't surprise me at all that 1) that she shoots it and 2) that is goes in. That is something that she has spent a lot of time working on it and I am glad she had a chance to shoot them today."

Rizzotti said Dolson's 3-point range was mentioned in the pre-game scouting report but just not very high up on the Hawks' defensive "to-do" list.

"We told them that Stefanie would shoot 3's, we did but don't fly out at her because it is not what she wants to do," Rizzotti said. "Then she makes her first 3 like it is nothing. I think what is impressive about Stefanie and Breanna is how much better they have gotten every year, they are not just content to be as good as they were, they add something to their game every year. They can both play on the perimeter, they can both best you on the blocks, they have size and they are smart."

UConn made six 3-pointers against Hartford. Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis had two each while Moriah Jefferson made her only 3-point attempt. But in the eyes of Dolson it was walk-on Tierney Lawlor's 3-pointer which was the highlight of the game.

"We love T," Dolson said. "She is great. First the fact that Polly (fellow walk-on Briana Pulido) had a nice drive and then dished her that 3 was just great, it was a great example of how hard they have been working in practice. We all know there are things that they don't know so when they go out there, work hard, play hard and give great effort you saw how excited everybody got."

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