Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A running UConn team is a happy UConn team

It is hardly a trade secret to reveal that the UConn women's basketball team is at its best when it is out in transition.

Whether it is Moriah Jefferson's aggressive drives to the basket or Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis spotting up for a 3-pointer, the Huskies thrive when racing up the court after a turnover or missed shot.

In Monday's win over Tulane no two players were any better executing in the transition game than Moriah Jefferson and Saniya Chong.

Jefferson finished with a season-high eight steals (one shy of her career best) while Chong not only dished out a career-high eight assists but she did so without committing a turnover.

"That is part of their offense, they really want to drive it and kick it out," Jefferson said. "(Assistant coach) Shea (Ralph) told me about it, she had a good scout so I went down there and tried to get some steals."

Six of Jefferson's 11 first-half points came off her own steals and two others resulted after a steal and dish by Morgan Tuck. Jefferson finished with 15 points as she scored in double figures for the sixth game in a row which matched the longest stretch of her career.
"The thing that I like about Moriah right now is she is playing with a lot of confidence, she is making things happen at both ends of the floor," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I thought there were a couple of lapses there late but she has control of the team right now, she has our offense under control. She knows exactly who's where and when and what we need to do."

Chong came into the game with no more than four assists in a game this season and had committed multiple turnovers in each of the last three games. Ten times this season Chong had a turnover-free game but she had just 14 assists in those games. In the second half Chong had seven assists as she played a team-high 19 minutes after halftime.

"She was really crafty with the ball even when she wasn't getting the assists, she was getting it into the lane and getting a nice layup," Jefferson said. "I think she is coming along well and giving us some good minutes."

Auriemma is just happy to see that Chong continues to make positive contributions even when her outside shot isn't there which was the case last night.
"Saniya, I don't know how she does it but in the two years that she has been here she has a way of getting the ball on the rim in traffic," Auriemma said. "Sometimes I would rather Saniya take a contested layup than a wide open jump shot. She has a better chance of making a contested layup but I want her to be consistent, I want her to contribute every day. I think Gabby (Williams) did the same thing. The first possession that she was in the game she made a play and that is what you want. We tried to play our starters extended minutes in a row  so it is not four minutes in, four minutes out. I want them to play a lot of minutes so they get used to playing without a lot of rest and there weren't any fouls called for maybe the first 10 minutes (the first foul was called with 11:34 left in the first half). They had a chance to play without a lot of stoppage."

There will be plenty of hugs exchanged when seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes are honored on Saturday as they play their final regular-season home game. The game against Memphis will feature another kind of a clinch, however.

Barring a stunning upset by Cincinnati when the Bearcats play South Florida later on today, UConn will have a chance to secure its second straight outright American Athletic Conference regular-season title with a win over Memphis. It figures to add to an already special day at Gampel Pavilion.

"All senior nights are good, they are all important and it is always a special night at Connecticut," Auriemma said. "By the time you get to be a senior in our program, you probably have been through a lot of great things. You experienced things that a lot of college players never had a chance to experience. Obviously the difference is that it is not the last game to be played but in one sense it is a way to celebrate. That building has been their home for the last four games, they have won a lot of games there, they have celebrated a lot of great moments there. I hope Saturday is everything that it should be for those two and their parents."

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