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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Supporting cast stepping up for UConn

Things had a chance to get interesting. Breanna Stewart was whistled for fouls No. 2 and 3 just 61 seconds apart. The reigning national player of the year would spend the final 6:07 of the half on the bench.

Vanderbilt, which fell behind 17-4 in the early stages, was only down 16 points when Stewart made her way to the sidelines. It was now or never for the Commodores.

Christa Reed, who led Vanderbilt with 17 points, hit a jumper on the ensuing possession and then it was time for Kia Nurse and Morgan Tuck to take over.

Nurse had UConn's next five points while Tuck scored eight points in a span of 2:12 as the Huskies extended the lead to 30 points.

"She does a lot for us," Nurse said of Stewart. "She gets us open and we have to give back to her."

With Stewart on the bench UConn scored 22 of the next 30 points. Eight of those points came from Morgan Tuck on aggressive drives to the hoop resulting in a pair of three-point plays, Nurse had seven points during that run.
"I can't say enough about Morgan Tuck and Kia Nurse, since those two guys have been in the (starting) lineup it has been a different feel," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They were so aggressive and they make something happen every time they touch the ball and there is no substitute for that.
"It was really good today. We got a lot accomplished today. We did a lot of things defensively I wanted us to do. We got a lot of people involved offensively and having Stewie get in foul trouble and not be able to play a lot of minutes and still score the way we did, I think that is good."
Stewart's first foul knocked Vanderbilt's leading scorer Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau out of the game. Stewart was trying to keep the Vanderbilt freshman from outletting the ball to a teammate when her hand caught Caron-Goudreau in the eye. She was screaming in pain and didn't open her eyes as she was helped off the court. She did not return to the game and early reports was that she had a scratch in her left eye.
"I felt bad," Stewart said. "I think anytime you are on the court, injuries are always something that happen but you never want to be a part of it, you don't want to be the one who caused the injury or see somebody get hurt."
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said that Caron-Goudreau was unable to open her eye so there is no way of knowing the severity of the injury.
It only added to an intense environment perhaps aided by a report in the Hartford Courant that Vanderbilt was the school which reported UConn coach Geno Auriemma for making a congratulatory call to Little League baseball star Mo'ne' Davis. Although UConn was not recruiting Davis and basketball was not the purpose of the call, the NCAA ruled that UConn was guilty of a secondary violation. Sources said that UConn has not been notified which school filed the complaint.
Auriemma said he would be surprised if Vanderbilt was the school to file the complaint.
"Believe, my team has no idea about any of that stuff," Auriemma said. "I have a hard time believing that is who that was but if it was them, I really don't care one way or the other. We have a lot of friends over there, maybe they did and maybe they didn't. That really doesn't play into any of that, I don't think they know anything of that stuff. Does she still play now that she is on TV?"
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis moved by current assistant coach Shea Ralph and into 14th place on UConn's career scoring list when she hit a 3-pointer with 10:23 left in the first half.
UConn will play for its 20th consecutive in season tournament title. The last time the Huskies lost a game in a regular-season tournament came in 1992 with a 57-37 loss to Vanderbilt in the Hilton Head Super Shootout.
Green Bay rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half to defeat Arizona State 63-57 in the other semifinal. Mehryn Kraker had 19 points, shooting 9 of 12 from the field, to lead four players in double figures.


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