Breanna Stewart was not at all pleased with her effort against Ohio State last Sunday in Springfield, Mass. For an individual who expects so much from herself in every practice and every game scoring a season-low eight points on 3-of-11 shooting (0-of-0 3-pointers) in 32 minutes was far from satisfactory.
Not even nine rebounds and a career-high six blocks could ease her disappointment. With this in mind, one had to know that Stewart would bounce back offensively Thursday against UC Davis. And, of course, she did.
Stewart finished with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting (1-of-3 3-pointers) in 32 minutes. She had eight points (4-of-8 FG) in 18 minutes in the first half.
“The thing about Stewie is that when players are really good offensive players, I don’t ever worry about it when they have a bad game offensively or when they do things that are just so out of the norm,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t worry about that. I don’t go to practice and try to figure out how to help Stewie score. That just comes. She knows what she’s doing out there, and in the course of our offense she’s going to get shots. But she’s got to put a little time and effort into it. She’s got to work at it a little bit. And (Thursday) she did.
“But the other things, I spend a lot of time with Stewie on those things. I spend a lot of time on her defense, a lot of time on rebounding, a lot of time on moving without the ball and doing things when she doesn’t have the ball in her hands. Those are the things that we do at Connecticut to help our really good players become great players. I’m not just sitting here saying, `Well, Stewie just get 20 every night and then be an All-American and live happily ever after.’ That’s not the way it works here. There’s so many other things that she has to do that she has to get better at. And she improved this week. From Sunday to (Thursday), she got better. I don’t mean just (Thursday) in the game. This week in practice, she got better. And that’s a good sign.’’
Stewart further put her stamp on another dominating performance by registering a career-high 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks against the Aggies. It was her first double-double of the season and her fifth in 46 career games.
“I think that I played well,’’ Stewart said. “I think that (the double-double) means I was active. But Ohio State I almost had a double-double and it wasn’t that pretty.
“I think it’s just a feel, like how you feel after a game. That’s how you can tell if you played well or not. (Thursday) I felt good. Yeah.’’
Some stats that stand out is Stewart had five offensive rebounds against UC Davis after grabbing a total of nine in the previous six games; She has a career-high eight defensive rebounds in each of the past two games after having 32 combined through the first eight games; And her 22 total rebounds in the last two games is also a career-high.
“She was talking about it with one of the other coaches about the fact that she was rebounding well,’’ Auriemma said. “And the fact that she went hard to the offensive boards, that’s an area of the game that very few people pay a lot of attention to. She’s very difficult to box out, and she’s very difficult to keep away from the basket. Stewie should have a double-double every night, in my mind, just like Stefanie (Dolson) does. Or close to it anyway. Maybe that’s why Stefanie gets so many double-doubles because Stewie doesn’t. And (Thursday) Stewie went and rebounded the ball, and there were none left for Stefanie. So they should be fighting each other for rebounds instead of the other team.’’