UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma had hoped that he would have been able to bring freshman Bria Hartley off the bench and ease her into her first season. But the loss of starting point guard Caroline Doty to a season-ending knee injury last summer altered his plans.
There was going to be nothing easy about Hartley’s transition to the elite level of Division I basketball. She was thrown into the starting lineup, asked to direct an offense that lost a combined 36.4 points with the graduation of Tina Charles and Kalana Greene and the loss of Doty.
Hartley welcomed the challenge, starting 26 of 30 games during the regular season for the top-ranked Huskies. And Friday she was rewarded for her efforts when she was named the Big East Freshman of the Year.
Senior All-American Maya Moore was the unanimous selection as the Big East Player of the Year as expected. She was also named the conference Scholar Athlete of the Year. Auriemma was named the Coach of the Year.
Hartley, who was named Freshman of the Week a conference-best six times this season, is the fourth UConn freshman to win the award in the last six seasons and the 11th overall. Moore was the last member of the Huskies to receive the award in 2008.
Hartley is averaging 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 31.4 minutes. She leads the Huskies in 3-point shooting percentage (.420) and made 3-pointers (60). She also scored at least 20 points in three games, including a season-high 29 in a 78-57 win over then-No. 8 Notre Dame at Gampel Pavilion Feb. 19.
Moore became the third player in Big East history to be named Player of the Year three times, joining former Villanova All-American Shelly Pennefather (1985, ’86, ‘87) and former UConn All-American Kerry Bascom (1989, ’90, ‘91). Tina Charles won the award last season.
A total of 11 UConn players over 17 seasons dating back to 1989 have been named Big East Player of the Year.
Moore, who is averaging 23.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals in 32.5 minutes, joins former UConn All-American Rebecca Lobo (1994, ’95) as the only Big East players to be twice named the Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Auriemma was the named the Big East’s top coach for the fourth straight season (10th overall). He shared the award the previous three seasons. He guided the Huskies, who are presently down to a six-man rotation, to a 29-1 record and their fifth straight conference regular season championship.