Freshman Breanna Stewart has been showing signs of returning to form lately. One play, in particular, in the first half of Tuesday’s 76-43 win over Villanova provided further proof that she is starting to feel a whole lot better about herself.
Stewart came flying into the lane from the left side to clean up a missed jumper by Morgan Tuck. She got her hands on the offensive rebound, scored on a layup and was fouled by Emily Leer. Stewart’s three-point play with 10:13 left in the half did not go unnoticed by UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
“We need Stewie to be a little more aggressive like she was a bunch of times (Tuesday),’’
Auriemma said. “She got one offensive rebound and she came out of nowhere and scored and got fouled. That’s the first time I’ve seen her do that all year, and we need her to do more of that.’’
Stewart finished with 14 points (6-of-9 FG), six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in 21 minutes against the Wildcats. Over the last six games, she is averaging 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds.
“I definitely feel like I’m getting back into a rhythm and a flow,’’ Stewart said. “Just going out there and playing and having a good time is something that I really enjoy doing.’’
Stewart was averaging 16.9 points on 59.8 percent shooting from the field and 7.2 rebounds through the first 10 games this season. However, she then suffered through a two-game stretch where she scored nine points at Stanford Dec. 29 and a season-low four at Oregon Dec. 31. She was a combined 3-of-12 shooting in 36 minutes.
Stewart did score 10 points against Notre Dame Jan. 5, but again she was off the mark shooting-wise (5-of-17).
It was four days later during the second half at Georgetown when you could see a difference in her play. Stewart was back looking like the dominant player that she can be, finishing with 12 points (5-of-9) and a season-high 13 rebounds in 20 minutes. She followed by scoring 20 points against Syracuse Jan. 19 and 13 against Duke Jan. 21.
“I don’t think it was anything in particular,’’ Stewart said in reference to what sparked her recent resurgence. “I just wanted to go out and I wanted to have fun. I don’t know if it went away. I think a lot of times I would just over-think things. And I just need to get back to just playing the game.’’