There will never again be any questions regarding the level of toughness that UConn guard Caroline Doty possesses. Not after coming back from three ACL tears in her left knee.
But there are instances when Doty proves exactly how tough she is when she summons the type of performance she did tonight in a 56-46 win at No. 20 Louisville. It was a tough game. One that was filled with fouls, collisions and a near altercation between Stefanie Dolson and Sheronne Vails early in the second half.
Not only did Doty help diffuse the Dolson-Vails situation, she matched her season-high with 15 points (5-of-11 3-pointers) and added three rebounds, three assists and four steals in a season-high 35 minutes. This effort came in the wake of dealing with further discomfort in her knee Monday in practice and again during shootaround today.
“Caroline Doty had the best game she’s had since she was a sophomore (2009-10), the one year that she played the whole year,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And I didn’t think she was going to be able to play that much today because she was hurting at practice yesterday and at shootaround this morning she didn’t feel great physically. So I’m thrilled that she was able to get that much out of it given that it would’ve been just as easy for her to just say, `I can’t go tonight’ or `I can’t play as much as I had to play given the fouls.’ So I think the best thing that came out of tonight was the way Caroline responded to not being 100 percent, the fouls and all the other stuff. The one steal she made at the end of the game underneath the basket was huge. They’re the kind of plays that kids make that are tough kids.’’
Doty had not played more than 29 minutes in her first 22 games this season (Jan. 7 at No. 2 Notre Dame). She had played 18 minutes against then-No. 13 Rutgers Saturday, finishing scoreless for the second time in four games.
But Doty had nine points in 17 minutes in the first half tonight. And with UConn leading 51-41, she made a steal under the Louisville basket with 2:02 left in the game and followed with a 3-pointer at the other end 27 seconds later to officially dash Louisville’s comeback bid.
“She did a great job tonight,’’ Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
Doty, of course, said nothing about the pain she had been dealing with. She said nothing about the 15 points she scored. Instead, she criticized herself for the three turnovers she committed and some of the plays she felt that she failed to make.
“I don’t really think of myself as a scorer,’’ Doty said. “I try to focus on keeping … I’m more disappointed about this game then I was this past weekend’s game. Just because I turned the ball over a few times. I didn’t really execute a few plays that I wanted to. I tried to get it back on defense a little bit. The 3-pointers definitely helped a little bit. But I was trying to tighten up a little bit and I think I was a little loose tonight.’’