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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hartley delivers for UConn

Her first two 3-pointers in the second half, like so many others in the previous game and a half, were off the mark and rather than get frustrated, UConn senior guard Bria Hartley decided to get creative.

Seeing her injured teammate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who ranks third all-time at UConn in 3-point percentage, sitting on the bench Hartley decided to seek aid from her good friend.

"I actually went to Kaleena and said I need something and I want to rub your hands," Hartley said with a laugh.

It seemed to work as Hartley made 4 of her last 5 3-pointers and had eight straight UConn points after Penn State pulled within nine points.All of this happened while she was guarding Penn State All-American Maggie Lucas.

"I think anytime I am out on the court I like to play and I like to create for my teammates and when you are out there you have to be ready, be aggressive and make plays whenever you are out there," Hartley said.

"I have taken a lot of my pride in my defense, as a freshman, sophomore, junior he (UConn coach Geno Auriemma) has been on me that I have to be a better defensive player and I really think I have gradually improved every year and this year I knew Kelly (Faris) was gone, Tiffany (Hayes) was gone and we needed people to step up, Saniya is new and she isn't stepping into that role. It is tougher at times but I am just do my best to make sure I am doing my best out there because defense is only effort

"If you want to be a great player and you want to reach that next level you have to play both ends, if you have to guard their best player you have to go out there for 40 minutes and you need to step up on offense as well. I take a lot of pride in my conditioning."

Hartley has been given the primary defensive assignments on Maryland's Alyssa Thomas and Lucas while playing 79 of 80 minutes in wins over Maryland and Penn State. Perhaps no player has been asked to do more since Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck have been sidelined.

"Some players physically are able to handle things like Kelly was last year, whether we helped her or not, it was going to be difficult to score on her," Auriemma said. "She's got to do it kind of a different way and it adds to the stress because she also has to be responsible for getting us a lot of offensive stuff and the fact that when we had Caroline and Kelly, we had two guys in the rotation that are pretty smart and experienced. Now she looks over and sees Saniya over here, Moriah over here, Brianna Banks over there who didn't play at all next year (after Feb. 2) so she is like a sophomore really so there is a lot that goes into her mind right now about what I've seen based on the (four) games she has played so far, she has been phenomenal at handling all of those things."

Auriemma has been impressed with Hartley's confidence dating back to her days at North Babylon High School.

"I've had some great ones obviously and if you mention her in the same breath as the other ones, you would probably forget because she struggled last year but not too many guys at Connecticut have made first-team All-American as sophomores and she did," Auriemma said. "None of it surprises me. I saw her in high school and she was incredibly confident and always wanted the ball in pressure situations. I kind of knew when they cut it to nine that we just kept running our stuff, we are going to find her and she is gong to knock them down because that is what we does, that is what she has done since high school.

"When we were up by 23 and they cut it 9 I loved the way we responded. You expect Bria to make those shots because she is a senior but Saniya made some big, big plays for a freshman on the road and I think that says a lot about her."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, any idea who takes Dolson's place next season passing out of the lane against zone? Dolson's scoring is down because she is the traffic cop against the zone and sets screens against man. If you stick Stewart in that position, it takes away her slashing ability and outside shot. Thanks.

8:24 PM 

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