The Huskies scored 103 points today in a 64-point win over the College of Charleston in the season opener. Led by Breanna Stewart (21) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (19), six players finished in double figures in scoring. And Kelly Faris finished with nine points
UConn also shot 63.6 percent from the field (9-of-19 3-pointers) and scored 29 points in transition. It makes you wonder how opponents are going to scheme to slow this team down this season. And what is truly impressive is that the Huskies, who have scored a combined 327 points when you factor in the two exhibition games, produced these type of numbers without junior All-American Bria Hartley, who remains sidelined with an injured left ankle.
The target date for Hartley’s return is Nov. 22 against Wake Forest at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here is what UConn coach Geno Auriemma said today about what the offense might look like when Hartley is back in the lineup …
“It’ll be different,’’ Auriemma said. “I don’t know that it’ll be necessarily better or worse. It’ll just be different. I don’t know that we really can score a lot more points than we’ve scored the first three games even when Bria comes back because there’s still an inexperience factor that’s out there. The last eight minutes of the game (Sunday) I think we scored eight points. So we’re still going to go through stretches where it’s not going to be great. But from what I saw today I don’t think scoring points is going to be a problem. How many points may be irrelevant. I don’t think scoring’s going to be a problem. We’re going to score. It’s making sure that we just keep getting better at all the other things.
“But scoring points … And we had some guys that are pretty good offensive players that didn’t have great games today. But scoring points is going to be one of our … And getting 100, our team should feel like, `Yeah, we should try to get 100.’ Why not? We’ve got a lot of good offensive players. If we can get 100 every night I think that makes for a good defense. That’s the best way to be a good defender if you’re a young kid that doesn’t know how to play defense. Just score. That seems to be the way Kaleena has gotten to be where she is. That’s how Maya (Moore) did it. If you can’t guard anybody just score. Then it won’t matter.’’
Auriemma said that he started senior Caroline Doty at point guard today because he wanted an experienced ballhandler in the backcourt. Stewart also drew the start.
Not only did Stewart lead the Huskies in scoring, she also had five rebounds and four steals in 23 minutes.
“Right now she’s able to, kind of like Maya did, change the game as it’s being played,’’ Auriemma said. “She just is the one player on the floor that nobody has an answer for. And if you remember when Maya was a freshman, we didn’t necessarily have to worry about whether we had Maya on the floor when she was a freshman because we had Tina (Charles) and we had Renee (Montgomery) and we had Kalana (Greene). We had a lot of guys that were playmakers that could make things happen. I think we need Breanna out on the floor right now, at least with Bria Hartley not being around, that can impact the game in a way that nobody else can.’’
Early on this preseason Auriemma made it a point to emphasize to Stewart that he does not want her to be shy about shooting the ball. She finished one assist against the College of Charleston. It came on a layup by Morgan Tuck with 11:18 left in the first half.
“Coach told me once to try not to lead the nation in assists, which I guess I appreciate,’’ Stewart said. “But I’m always looking for the open man.’’