Kelly Faris was in her element Monday against No. 4 Duke. Forget about the 18 points she scored. Forget about that fact that Huskies outscored the Blue Devils 47-19 in the second half by shooting 50.0 percent from the field.
That was all well and good. But what might have been the Huskies’ greatest asset in the win was the way they continued to beat Duke to loose balls, the way they dominated the boards and they just flat-out demonstrated a greater desire to succeed.
UConn finished with a 44-25 rebounding advantage, including 14-7 at the offensive end. The Huskies grabbed 10 offensive rebounds (11 second-chance points) and had six of their seven steals in the second half.
The collective gritty effort was punctuated by Faris, who finished with a career-high seven offensive rebounds and tied her career-high 12 rebounds overall. She again hit the floor for a loose ball with 1:36 left and UConn leading 76-48. She rose up after the tie-up and headed to the bench for the final time as she received a rousing standing ovation.
“That makes it a lot of fun when it’s more about the hustle plays and who’s going to come up with the ball and who’s going to do this and who’s going to do that,’’ Faris said. “Because when you do that and you’re laying on the ground with the ball and you have four teammates come over and pick you up and they’re all excited you’re like `OK, let’s go do it again.’ It doesn’t matter how tired you are. And that happened almost every play on the court, no matter who was on the court, who dove for the ball, who got a tip on the ball, one of our players was constantly there to get the ball, get tangled up. So, yeah, there’s games that somebody might hit six or seven 3s in a row and that’s awesome. But then there’s times that it takes the energy and not just the points.’’