Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

UConn wraps up road trip with win over Memphis

The clearest indication that his team was getting a little run down came on Thursday when UConn coach Geno Auriemma took suggestions about what his players would like to do with the extra day they were staying in Orlando before flying to Memphis. When the Huskies passed on taking a sightseeing tour or hit the large number of tourist spots, it was clear what a grind it has been.

Auriemma had that in mind during Saturday's game at Memphis when he pulled Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart, who came into the game ranking second and third on the team in minutes played, after only 4:51 had elapsed. Just over a minute and a half later out came Moriah Jefferson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Even Stefanie Dolson, the team leader in minutes, got the hook before the midway point of the first half.

"It has been a long trip, we were tired," Auriemma said. "We sat in the airport for six hours in Hartford (on Monday) and then yesterday we were delayed again for a couple hours (flying from Orlando to Memphis) and we just got here last night. It is a long haul and I wanted to make sure the kids who weren't playing a lot got a lot of playing time. I thought except for a couple of stretches, I thought we did a good job. I am happy with what we got done, I am happy with my team right now."

UConn opened the game missing 13 of its first 19 shots and Memphis opened up by making 7 of its first 10 shots. The Huskies promptly ended the first half by making 12 of their last 13 shots and after Memphis made seven field goals in the first 5:12, it took the Tigers nearly 29 minutes to make another seven FGs.

I liked how we handled the entire trip and especially today, we had a lot of great moments

I think she has been a little bit frustrated with not being able to play much, being on the bench with fouls and today.

"We haven't had many games in the month of December and into January," UConn senior guard Bria Hartley said. "I thought we started really bad. We started a little flat so we had to come out and improve, It started with our defense, Mo (Jefferson) got a lot of steals tonight and kind of get into a flow."

What was interesting was that UConn was called for a 10-second call, the Huskies promptly scoring the final 15 points of the first half.

"It was probably a coincidence," said Hartley, who was the only called for the violation after she was knocked to the ground, got up and brought the ball up the court. "It was an unfortunate (scenario) when we were all falling around and I didn't know it was 10 seconds, I probably could have hustled it a little bit. It happens some times.

"We weren't really able to get into a groove these last couple of games, this game was definitely an improvement and  a step in the right direction."

In a perfect world UConn would have done some sightseeing on Friday night but an issue with the radio in the cockpit forced their flight to be delayed by more than two hours. Instead of landing in Memphis around 3:30 p.m., the flight didn't land until after 6 p.m.

So what was the highlight of the six days of the road trip? A trip to Waffle House for breakfast of course which was impacted by having the fly commercially instead of being able to charter flights.

"They have all been to Disney World, I would have been real disappointed if they asked me 'I want to go see Disney,'" Auriemma said. "They didn't ask me, they kind of just wanted to hang out and be kids, go do some shopping go to a movie. Thursday was just a nothing day, I think the highlight as much as we travel and all the great places, they all got their pictures taken at Waffle House that was the highlight of the trip.

"We got in here so late and we wanted to do a lot of things because there are a lot of neat things to do in Memphis both from a music history and civil rights history and we wanted to do a lot of those things because we didn't get to. You can't always do all the things that you want to but we will be happy to get home for sure."

DOLSON/HARTLEY IN SELECT COMPANY
Bria Hartley scored her 1,500th career point against Duke on Dec. 17. Today it was Stefanie Dolson's turn as she reached that milestone just 15 seconds into the game. They became the third set of UConn classmates to reach the mark (attained by just 20 Huskies) joining the Swin Cash/Asjha Jones and Ann Strother/Barbara Turner tandems.

"I think it has been awesome because since the beginning we have been working towards the same goals, we were improving at the same rate and I think it was good," Hartley said. "I think now we are seniors, we look back and we are proud of what we have done and what we have been able to accomplish. We want to continue to have that success and end this year on a good note."

Hartley moved into No. 15 spot on UConn's career scoring list (joining Maya Moore, Svetlana Abrosimova, Renee Montgomery, Shea Ralph and Tiffany Hayes as the only UConn players to rank in the top 15 in points, assists and steals) and Dolson is 18th on UConn's scoring list. If they continue their current scoring pace and UConn plays the maximum of 40 games, Hartley would finish ninth on UConn's career list and Dolson would check in at No. 11.

"I have always said that if you want to be an elite program, if you want to be at the level that we aspire to be for as long as we can remember you need two All-Americans in every class," Auriemma said. "It doesn't always work out that way but it did work out this way this time, we have two players on our team who are seniors that for four years have been in pretty consistent and have been really good, since their first day at Connecticut they ave been really good so I am not surprised that they both have 1,500 points, they have been in a lot of big games, they have won a lot of big games for us, they are both hard workers, they are both really competitive and I am proud of both of them for different reasons - Bria for what she has come back from last year to where she is now to Stefanie, how she has been able to transform herself from where she is as a freshman to where she is today. It will be interesting  when we go down to play Baylor that the second game of her college career was against Brittney Griner. I think she played 12 minutes, didn't score and fouled out and to see where she is today, you wouldn't even recognize her. These two have panned out exactly how we thought they would "

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