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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Never-nervous Breanna Stewart puts on a show for UConn

Some of the greatest players in UConn history have gotten caught up in the emotion that comes with playing in homecoming games. The quest to impress family members and friends can overwhelm even the coolest customer.

However, Breanna Stewart vowed that she would be able to control her emotions and play the way her team expects her to perform.

It wasn't just idle chatter as she had eight points, a rebound, two assists and two steals in the first 4:58 en route to another impressive showing highlighted by a career-high 10 assists to go with 22 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots in 29 minutes (none in the fourth quarter).

"The one thing I will remember about tonight it having the opportunity to come here and play Colgate, have my friends and family here watching," Stewart said. "I knew I was going to be kind of emotional because a lot of people were coming but at the same time I wanted to make sure I was focused on the game."

Stewart certainly was focused as she made her first five shots from the field before finally misfiring late in the second quarter. Perhaps had she played in the fourth quarter Stewart might have had her first collegiate triple-double but she still left with memories that will last a lifetime. She also did it on the night when she became the first Division I women's player with 300 assists and 300 blocked shots.

"She did exactly what she has been doing all year, it is just a continuation of the very first game against Ohio State, everything is starting to look the same and it is an incredible consistency about her," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

"It is great to see her start the game off like she did. Stewie is one of those rare individuals that she seems to ready for those moments when she needs to be ready. You look at all three Final Fours she has been in, whatever the moment calls for her to do something whenever the spotlight was on her, whenever people are paying attention the most, it seems to be when she plays her best."

Stewart's special night did come with a moment of levity when she accidently scored into the Colgate basket while trying to grab a defensive rebound.

"That is just one of those moments that you have to laugh it off. I grabbed the ball, one of my rebounds and it went into the basket."

It is the first time I can recall a UConn star scoring for the other time since Swin Cash did it.

"Swin's was more fundamentally sound," Auriemma said. "She got the rebound; she squared up; she jumped and shot it. It was a great follow through, picture perfect until she realized she was shooting at the other team's basket."

While UConn played in front of a season-low 1,782, the atmosphere was rather electric. Stewart especially got a chuckle out of the enthusiasm of some members of the Colgate football team, currently still alive in the FCS playoffs, sitting right behind the UConn bench.

"It was really entertaining," Stewart said. "The past three or four games we have really exciting atmospheres whether it is home or away. The kids behind the bench were non stop, a lot of energy. I don't know if they were hyped up for finals week or something but they were ready."

There was a scary moment when freshman Katie Lou Samuelson asked out of the game early in the fourth quarter and then fell to the floor. She was helped to the bench by Stewart and after a brief conversation with UConn athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle, she took a seat with the other reserves.

"She hasn't been feeling well," Auriemma said. "She has some sort of head cold or something going on as a lot of us do. She was dehydrated and it kind of got her. She felt really lightheaded. She is fine."

UConn didn't have the services of junior guard Saniya Chong as the IT Band Syndrome continues to wreak havoc with her, causing pain around her knee.

"She came to practice (Tuesday) and couldn't run," Auriemma said. "She tried it again today and still didn't (feel pain free). I don't know about Friday (when UConn plays Florida State) but then we have 10 days (before playing again). I don't think people realize how painful that IT Band (Syndrome) is, you have a hard time jogging never mind running."

Gabby Williams only played five minutes in the first half and Napheesa Collier started in her place in the second half but Auriemma said that was a case of Williams not being as comfortable and effective playing against a zone defense than his dissatisfaction with how Williams played.



Anonymous Joe said...

Really classy move by Colgate to agree to host the game after the tacky way Syracuse turned it down.

8:12 AM 

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