Freshman Breanna Stewart had attempted 160 shots through her first 15 games (10.7). Despite missing two games this season due to a sprained left ankle she was still ranked third on the team in this category behind leading-scorer Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (180) and Stefanie Dolson (169).
With this in mind, one of greatest mysteries following the first half of the Huskies’ 79-49 thrashing of No. 4 Duke Monday at Gampel Pavilion, was how could Stewart not attempt even one shot in nine minutes in the half? She too had only one rebound, for that matter.
“She’s too good a player,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She didn’t take a shot in the first half. That’s just not supposed to happen. It makes us look bad as coaches. And we’re not that bad. We might be bad. But we’re smart enough to at least get her one shot. You’d think.’’
The second half, as it was collectively for the Huskies, was far different for Stewart. She rallied and produced 13 points (5-of-7 FG), four rebounds and three blocks in 13 minutes in the half.
It took her only 2:23 after she entered the game for the first time in the second half to attempt her first shot and score.
Stewart also played strong defense against talented Duke center Elizabeth Williams, who finished with 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting in 33 minutes.
“There’s a lot of things that Stewie is going to have to get better at,’’ Auriemma said. “She knows that, but she’s actually pretty good at following directions. Like if you tell her, `I want you to do this,’ she’ll do it. It’s just when you leave it up to her and you’re kind of open-ended about `Hey, we need you to …’ But there were stretches there where you just tell her, `Listen, I want you to try to score every time you touch the ball. And on defense I want you to try to block her shot every time down the floor.’ And it was almost like, `OK, that’s all you needed to tell me. Because when you go, `Hey, I need you to be more aggressive.’ `Huh?’ So you’ve got to be real specific with her. And (Monday) in the second half we were very specific with Stewie and she did a great job.’’
Stewart scored six points in a span of 4:13 during UConn’s jaw-dropping 31-7 run that took the life out of Duke. She also added three rebounds and two blocks, including one on Williams, in the run.
“She’s a very talented player,’’ UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “And I think right now there’s times when we need her to step up and she does. And it’s a lot to ask of a freshman, so I think she’s doing pretty well.’’