The Huskies desperately needed someone to stand beside Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and provide some scoring Saturday at St. John’s. Stefanie Dolson was sidelined by illness. All-American Bria Hartley was struggling. Breanna Stewart was not making much of an impact. And Kelly Faris was simply a non-factor early on.
Faris finished the first half with four points (0-of-2 FG) and zero rebounds in 18 minutes. And UConn coach Geno Auriemma let her know at halftime that she needed to become more involved.
Being the prideful individual that she is, Faris went out and gave the Huskies exactly what they needed in the second half by registering 13 points (5-of-7 FG; 3-of-4 3-pointers) and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
“Kelly was her own worst enemy in the first half,’’ Auriemma said. “She didn’t look to shoot the ball. She didn’t have a rebound. I don’t know what she was trying to do in that first half. We brought it up at halftime. I don’t know how many points she had in the second half, but she had five rebounds.’’
Faris made her 100th career 3-pointer to give the Huskies a 53-52 lead with 6:07 left. She would score a team-high eight points down the stretch, which included nailing a dagger 3-pointer that gave UConn a 67-60 lead with 1:15 left.
“The first half I didn’t really take too many shots,’’ Faris said “But that’s kind of my fault. I wasn’t getting open. I wasn’t getting other people open. I think we were all just kind of standing around too much. So coming out the second half I definitely had a different mindset, especially down towards the end of the game. I was trying to get Kaleena the ball as much as I could because she was pretty much dominating or getting a foul and getting to the free throw line. But eventually they’re going to catch on to that and they did.
“I think I got a wide-open 3. I think (Morgan) Tuck might have set the screen for me. So there was a lot of people who stepped up and did some little things that in the end made a difference. I wouldn’t have gotten any of those 3s or open shots if it wasn’t for the screens or the drive and the kick. So, yeah, there was definitely a different mentality going into the end of the game.’’