Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Defense never rests at UConn

Just in case anybody forgot what is the foundation for the incredible run of success the UConn women's basketball team has enjoyed over the last two decades, it was on full display in front of the largest women's basketball crowd in the history of the KFC Yum! Center and with a nationally-televised audience looking on from afar.

Louisville made seven of its first nine shots and nine of the first 13 and seemingly could get any shot it wanted whenever it wanted.

With UConn facing its largest deficit of the season (16-10), UConn went away from playing man to man defense and went with a swarming 1-2-2 zone which threw a senior-laden Louisville team off. The Cardinals missed 10 of its final 13 shots in the first half and were held scoreless for nearly 9 1/2 minutes in the second half as UConn finished off a perfect regular season with a 68-48 victory.

"I think in second half we really dug down defensively," said UConn sophomore forward Breanna Stewart, who led the Huskies with 22 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. "We were getting good looks at the basket and the shots weren't falling but we held them scoreless or force them to take a bad shot and  that is what we wanted.

"Louisville is a great team. This is a great game to play, it is the last regular-season game and it is at Louisville, it is hostile environment and you know it sends us into the postseason on a really good note."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was happy with how the Huskies responded defensively after a rugged start.

"I knew at some point our defense was going to get settled down and at some point they were going to stop shooting 70 percent from the floor," Auriemma said. "I think the hardest thing with the new rules is to defend people off the dribble. They made a concerted effort to get a lot of shots off the dribble and I was OK wit that because we are not going to foul that much, they are going to shoot a lot of 2s and give us 3s at the other end that is not a bad trade for us.

"We made a couple of adjustments and we changed a couple of things at the game went on and in the second half we gave them a couple of different looks depending on who they had in the game. When we had Kiah Stokes in the game it was very difficult to all of sudden get anything inside."

Other than figuring out who the No. 5 and 6 seeds are, the rest of the bracket  for the American Athletic Conference tournament is set.

UConn earned the top seed, Louisville will be seeded second, South Florida beat Rutgers to get the No. 3 seed and avoid UConn in the semifinals while Rutgers will be seeded fourth.

The SMU/Central Florida was pushed back to tomorrow due to weather and travel issues. If SMU wins, the Mustangs will be seeded fifth and Temple sixth. If SMU loses, Temple gets the No. 5 seed and SMU is sixth.

Memphis beat Cincinnati to get the No. 7 seed and will play No. 10 Houston in the first round on Friday. Cincinnati is seeded eighth and will play Central Florida in the other first-round game. The winner of that game gets UConn in Saturday's quarterfinals at 2 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. Because of a conflict with the UConn men's game, the game will only air on WTIC 96.5 FM and is not being televised except for a live stream on ESPN3.

The conference player of the week award will be announced at some point tomorrow once the UCF/SMU game is over.


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