Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Stokes comes up big in UConn's Final Four win

Kiah Stokes has had her share of impactful moments, especially this season but it is hard to imagine too many times when she had her fingerprints on a bigger game than she did on Sunday night.

UConn found itself down six points in the first half and looked lost against a well-coached Stanford team which was threatening to run away with things.

Then in came Stokes who played a pivotal role in a 12-0 run late in the first half to enable the Huskies to take a four-point lead into halftime.

"Coach really emphasizes that when we come off the bench, we have to make an impact so I know mine is usually on defense," Stokes said. "When I get in there, I know I can rebound and block shots and that kind of thing.

"I think it is a big step for me personally. I know my teammates have a lot more confidence in me and I know they are going to expect that from me."

Stokes checked into the game with 9:15 left in the first half with Stanford up by two. Less than a minute later Erica McCall scored off a sweet assist from Chiney Ogwumike to push the lead to four points. It would go back up to six points before Stokes would hit a free throw, get a steal, make a layup. When she checked out with 25 seconds left in the half, UConn was up by four.

"I think she changed things maybe defensively so they could go big and guard the 3 (small forward) with the bigger person," Chiney Ogwumike said. "I think that changed our vision offensively, harder to get passes inside and your shot up if you're being guarded by (Breanna) Stewart. I think that affected the game."

Ogwumike's opinion was seconded by UConn coach Geno Auriemma.

"When we went with the bigger lineup, we have a few more options defensively," Auriemma said. "It allowed us to move Stewie (Breanna Stewart) onto a shooter and get some length out there. Kiah has been a real good defensive player and a shot blocker. We trust her now; we didn't in the past. But we do and we're not afraid to put her out there in big moments. That's the best game she's ever played, I think, since she came to Connecticut."

Now UConn not only goes for its second straight national title but meet up with fellow undefeated team Notre Dame.

"It is awesome," Stokes said. "We worked really hard this season and I know for me, Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) and Bri (Banks), we really want to do it for  the seniors. Bria and Stef have worked so hard for all four years they have been here. We really want to get it done.

"It will be a great test. They lost (Natalie) Achonwa who is a great post player so they are really going to step it up. It is going to be a great game. It is going to be physical but we have to come ready to play."

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