Star freshman Breanna Stewart returned in a big way today against Syracuse. She finished with 20 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes in her return from a two-game absence due to a sprained left ankle.
It marked the sixth time this season that Stewart has scored at least 20 points.
“It definitely felt great just to come back with a pretty good performance, especially with the way we finished the game as a team,’’ Stewart said. “I was pretty confident with my shot. My confidence was just growing throughout the game. I was just planning on not thinking today and just going out and playing and getting the shots we talked about as a team.’’
Stewart had eight points (3-of-7 FG) and four rebounds in 12 minutes in the first half. She followed with 12 points (4-of-8) and two rebounds in 10 minutes in the second half.
Stewart scored seven points in a span of 55 seconds in the second half and she scored all of 12 of her points in the half in a span of 3:16.
“That end of the game I think that I kept gaining momentum and gaining confidence,’’ Stewart said. “It was nice to see the ball go through the basket. Obviously, I wasn’t on the court the past two games and that was something I really wanted to do and I was looking forward to coming out and playing. So, obviously, when you make shots you’re going to feel better.’’
Stewart had been averaging 8.8 points on 34.2 percent shooting from the field (13-of-38 FG) in her previous four games.
“I think anybody that watches Breanna Stewart play can see there’s things that happen on the basketball court that she’s able to do that are difficult for most players to do,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And when she’s in an aggressive mode like she was today, in the second half especially… I would say that regardless of the level of competition pretty much, if Breanna goes out on the court and says, `I’m going to try to score 25 points today,’ it would be very difficult for her not to do that. The only thing that would hold her back is when she gets frustrated with herself, and then it kind of goes away. But when she stays positive and she decides that `I’m going to score tonight,’ she scores whenever she wants to.’’
Here is what Stewart had to say about her ankle …
“I didn’t feel like I was favoring anything,’’ she said. “I think that for the most part it’s healed. There’s just, obviously, a little swelling. But that’s going to go away eventually.’’