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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, April 06, 2015

UConn goes big to roll past Maryland

Malina Howard had just picked up her first foul and fellow Maryland starting post Brionna Jones already had two fouls when Geno Auriemma decided to up the ante a little bit.

Auriemma summoned senior Kiah Stokes off the bench to replace Kia Nurse with 10:36 left in the first half and the Huskies leading 22-16. Chloe Pavlech hit a 3-pointer to pull Maryland within three before the Huskies went on a 12-2 run. Maryland would not get closer than six points the rest of the way.

"It wasn't a surprise that he put me in," Stokes said. "Every time I am going in, I have to make sure I am doing my part, blocking shots, rebounding and doing anything else that helps the team. Playing with a big lineup, I think it gives Morgan (Tuck) and Stewie (Breanna Stewart) a really good opportunity to play on the perimeter. If I am occupying the biggest defender it makes it easier for them to a little easier to get in the paint and get to the basket that way."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma credited having Stokes in the game for opening up room for Stewart and Tuck to operate.

"We were trying to figure out what gave us the best opportunity to guard them," Auriemma said. "We knew we were going to have a problem in man to man, we made a decision to go zone and that is Kiah so when Kiah comes in we can play a little bit of zone, go man to man a little bit, make it look a little bit different that is looks otherwise. She gives us a big presence in the middle, we are not very big so having Kiah in there, it just frees up Stewie and Tuck to move around on the perimeter a little bit where I thought their guys would have a hard time guarding us.

"They were clogging up the lane pretty much. It is almost like they made two decisions, we are going to guard K (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) really hard and we are going to keep everybody else in the lane try to bottle all those other guys up. I have said this all along, when Kiah is good, she is really good and she was really good."
Stokes finished with six points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocked shots in 18 minutes. Stokes now has 38 career blocks in NCAA tournament play which ties her with Rebecca Lobo for 11th on the all-time list.

"When Kiah cam in she had a big (impact), just her effort with her rebounds and blocks, you could tell that she was helping change the momentum of the game," Stewart said. "When we got to our big lineup, it is not easy to match up with us."

Stewart is one of the players ahead of Stokes on the career blocks list. She had four giving her 48 which is fifth on the career list and two behind former Husky Stefanie Dolson for the No. 4 spot.

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