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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

UConn freshmen deliver in blowout win

Breanna Stewart has reached such a level at UConn that a game when she goes 10 for 10 from the field is hardly worthy of huge headlines.

We already knew that Stewart is a dynamic offensive player and she certainly showed that during Sunday's 96-60 win over Creighton finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Rebecca Lobo, who was 11 for 11 in a Dec. 23, 1994 win over Iona, is the only Husky to attempt more shots without missing than Stewart. However, after she hit baskets 26 seconds apart, she was 8 of 8 from the floor with 18:08 left to play. She spent the most of her time on the floor looking to get her younger teammates more involved in the action.

"It is wonderful playing with her," said UConn freshman Kia Nurse, who had 22 points in her first career start. " For her to hit 10 for 10, she is a great shooter so that doesn't blow my mind, To have her on the team, she makes us all better. She is a great teammate, she is a great leader and she works as hard as anybody. I think she helps us with our confidence."

Nurse joined a list including Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi as the only UConn players to go perfect from 3-point range while attempting at least four treys.

"There are a lot of people who question that I am a good cook because I never cook a thing so it is hard to know if I am a good cook," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Kia Nurse, watching the Canadian national team play, it was hard to see if she was a good 3-point shooter because she was never allowed to shoot the ball. We have encouraged her to find her offense. There are days in practice when she does when she doesn't miss and other days when ... I am not ready to say she is a great 3-point shooter but she is better than people think, no question about it."

Nurse also drew the defensive assignment on Creighton's Marissa Janning, the Big East's preseason player of the year. Janning had a team-high 15 points but was just 6 of 21 from the field.
"It motivated me and I knew I had to get this assignment right just because of how I felt about myself in the last game," Nurse said. "It was definitely a big motivation. I am glad I had the challenge and I am probably going to have more challenges in the future."

Nurse was among the UConn players who took the loss to Stanford the hardest according to Auriemma.
"I watched the game film on the plane and saw where I definitely could have been better," Nurse said. "I talked to the older players, the veterans and told them exactly how I felt. I think it is taking it as motivation and that I can make a difference."

While Nurse didn't think she played well against Stanford, Williams didn't play at all and she understands why.

"It was a wakeup call for me," Williams said. "I haven't given the coaches any reason to trust me more. I really needed to step it up in practice, working hard in practice made it easy to have fun out
there. I definitely saw where I could help but I also knew why I didn't play at the same time. I think it is effort, not picking and choosing when to go hard, just keep going on every play, keep going, keep talking, keep being a good teammate."

Before the game it came out that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' flu-like symptoms would keep her out of the game. Auriemma said Mosqueda-Lewis will make the trip to Florida for the upcoming Gulf Coast Showcase but it remains to be seen if she has recovered well enough for her to return to the court. Auriemma said it is merely the flu and not a return of the mononucleosis

Also, freshman Courtney Ekmark is out 4-6 weeks with a stress reaction in her right foot.

"Just in the last couple of weeks she has been complaining about it," Auriemma said."Last night we got the MRI back, she has a stress reaction and it is the usual."

Nurse is Ekmark's roommate and said she is taking the news hard.

"She is a workhorse, she is in the gym all the time and to have an injury, especially this early it can be a little bit of a confidence buster," Nurse said. "I know she is going to keep doing what she is doing in practice, making sure she is bringing energy and maybe this will be a learning experience."

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