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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stefanie Dolson joins select company in UConn win

If she had her way, Stefanie Dolson would have preferred that assistant coach Marisa Moseley didn't tell her that she was an assist shy of become the second player in UConn women's basketball history to record a triple-double.

Dolson has never played basketball with the intention of posting gaudy individual statistics and she did not want to start in the final minutes of Wednesday night's 114-68 win over Oregon.

Dolson did everything she could to play just as she would have if she was not within range of joining Laura Lishness in this select club. Still, Dolson couldn't help but quietly chuckle when the XL Center crowd of 7,961 groaned when Moriah Jefferson passed up an open layup on what would have been Dolson's 10th assist with 4:02 to play. The magical assist came on a jumper by Kiah Stokes with 1:20 to play.

"If you try too hard to get something people get frantic and things get crazy and I really wanted to finish the game off well," Dolson said. "Even though 'Ris told us, we did a good a job of executing at the end I figured it was going to happen, I pass the ball a lot."

Dolson finished with career highs of 26 points and 11 assists to go with 14 rebounds.

"It's amazing, I am honored," Dolson said.

Oregon is coached by the Guru of Go Paul Westhead who used his system to put up incredible offensive numbers in the NBA, WNBA and in college with the Loyola Marymount men's program.

With Oregon pushing the pace and attempting to pressure UConn's guards, there was plenty of opportunities for UConn's frontcourt to spread the wealth.

Dolson and Breanna Stewart combined for 15 assists and just one turnover as UConn posted the seventh most points in school history.

"We want our big guys handling the ball a lot," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Oregon's strategy was to pressure our guards and make them handle it and not a bad way to go bu our big guys are pretty good passers and we felt like once we got the top to the top of the key, I thought we had a chance to score and we did. Stewie and certainly Stefanie are terrific passers and Kiah is becoming a better passer every day and all three of them are prety good ifinishjes too so they help each other.

"I think when you play against a team that is going at attempt as many 3's, the tendency is to get caught up in that game. Thee are times in that first half when we did. We shot more air balls tonight than we did all year long because your heart is going 100 miles an hour because you are playing that way and it is not easy to make shots at that pace so for us the game plan going in, let's make sure we make two or three passes and unless we have a layup. let's make them play some defense then we can catch our breath and we will still get whatever shot we want I hope and that is."

Dolson spread out her assists to six different players. She set up Breanna Stewart and Kiah Stokes three times each, assisted on both of Saniya Chong's baskets and had one assist each to Moriah Jefferson, Bria Hartley and Briana Pulido.

Stewart had 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists (two each to Dolson and Brianna Banks), two steals and two blocked shots.

"It makes it us a lot better," Dolson said. "I pride myself with my passing and I know Stewie does too so for us to be able to pass the ball makes us harder to guard because not a lot of teams have bigs that can do that. Most of them  look to rebound and post up but we are a big part of the offense to get it moving, get it flowing and find open shots."

Dolson joins Laura Lishness as the only Huskies to record triple doubles. While Auriemma was the UConn coach when Lishness had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in the 1989 Big East championship game against Providence, Auriemma wasn't there to see it.

During the 1988-89 season Auriemma set up a scrimmage against Eastern Connecticut however, the game ended up being counted as an official game by the NCAA. Syracuse agreed to cancel its game against the Huskies so UConn would not go over the allotted number of the games. As a result of the situation Auriemma was suspended for the entire Big East tournament.

"I know for that time Laura is unique, there wasn't anything on the basketball court that she couldn't do," Auriemma said. "She is probably still one of the best athletes to ever play here, I just wish I had been here to see it."

Although Kia Nurse signed and faxed her letter of intent on Tuesday, Auriemma hadn't been given the thumbs' up from the compliance department at the time we spoke to him after practice. Following the Oregon game he spoke about the Canadian national team guard who committed to UConn on Monday.

"Every time I watch her play, she plays the same," Auriemma said. "She does remind me of Svetlana in terms of her demeanor, she knows how to run a team, she knows how to play defense, she enjoys playing defense, she makes open shots, she is a willing passer. Some people are good passers but they don't want to be passers, she is one of these kids that a young age is a complete basketball player and is only going to get better.

"She is a tremendous athlete, she probably got it from mom and her brother got it from her mom. Her dad Rich, he takes all the credit and he always tells me how great he is but I know exactly where it came from."

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