Jefferson Was A Star For Huskies In Win At Baylor

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Sophomore Moriah Jefferson came of age Monday before 9,145 fans at the Ferrell Center and a national television audience. This was arguably the biggest spot of her career when it comes to a regular season game. Playing before friends and family in her home state of Texas and playing against Baylor All-American point guard and long-time friend Odyssey Sims, this was a chance for Jefferson to shine.

And Jefferson was absolutely brilliant. She scored the ball. She distributed the ball. She stole the ball. She got her hands on loose balls. She played a big role in limiting Sims to a dreadful 4-of-25 shooting night. And with the outcome still very much in doubt in the final minutes, it was Jefferson who joined senior leaders Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley as the loudest players in the UConn huddle.

It takes a special type of player to serve as the starting point guard for the top-ranked Huskies. At this juncture, Jefferson is proving to be a special player.

“I can’t think of anything more important to a player’s success than confidence,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And right now she’s got a ton of it. It’s a level of confidence she has that allows her to make good plays. She believes in herself. She knows what plays to make. She never looks over at the bench and worries. She’s just grown up. It’s not easy for a kid to come from Dallas to UConn and not feel a little bit overwhelmed.

“She’s a tough little kid. She doesn’t back down from anyone. I’m more and more impressed with her every day in practice and in games.’’

Jefferson finished with 13 points (4-of-8 FG), six rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block in a career-high 38 minutes. Most impressive, from the perspective of a point guard, was the fact that she did not commit a turnover.

Afterward, this was a performance she could cherish.

“It meant a lot,’’ Jefferson said. “I wanted to do whatever I could for my team. It’s incredible. It’s a good feeling. Any time you come out in an arena like this and then playing people like Odyssey Sims you have to stay composed. So I think the whole game I was just trying not to get over worried, to just stay composed and be a leader for my team.

“My confidence is building and I’m coming out and I’m playing a lot better. So I want to keep building on that.’’

Jefferson established herself immediately against the Lady Bears. She was aggressive offensively, scoring the first five points for the Huskies on a driving layup and a 3-pointer.

Jefferson had 10 points in the first 7:52. Ultimately, she assisted on a layup by Breanna Stewart, made one free throw and grabbed two defensive rebounds in the final 3:35 as the Huskies were in the process of burying Baylor with a 10-2 run to end the game.

“If I’m out there out of control, my team is going to feed off of that,’’ Jefferson said. “I can’t allow that to happen. If I’m calm and making the plays and doing the correct things, they’ll think, `Hey, we’re going to be alright.’’’

Jefferson is averaging 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and team-highs of 4.7 assists and 2.6 steals in 28.0 minutes this season. She is shooting 55.7 percent from the field and has a team-best 2.7 assist to turnover ratio in 504 total minutes (84:31).

Here is how Jefferson explains her ascension this season …

“Part of it is physical because I’m one of the smaller players, but the jump I had to make was with the mental part,’’ Jefferson said. “You have to be confident. You have to be prepared to play at a certain level every game and play the same way every day.’’

Rich

Categories: General

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6 Responses

  1. Mike McManus—I usually respect your comments–you know a bit about basketball. But on Banks–she has improved. The foul on the 3 ball shooter was a FLOP by the shooter–Banks didn’t touch her. Mulkey had her team primed to FLOP. The KML arm twisting “foul/non foul” was a flop . Mulkey told the put your arms up and when they twist toward you FlOP. 80 percent of the fouls called against UConn were FLOPs.
    The ref’s were sucked in big time in the first half and got a bit more real in the second. That “flagrant foul” flop is one Geno needs to teach–because he’ll see more of that this year.
    Banks is a good guard, a good 3 ball shooter, and a decent defender—a starter on any team except UConn’s who is loaded with All Americans. She’ll be great end of this year and next, when she’l really be needed.

  2. It wasn’t that much of a jump from Freshman year to today for Jefferson. The big jump was for Geno. His Guards prior to the NCAA’s last year collectively told him “trust Jefferson” and he did the rest of the way–an that paid off then and is paying off big time this year.
    Jefferson played superbly in front of her family and friends (no talk of that here) and to show Mulkey what she missed in NOT getting Jefferson. Mulkey thought Moriah was a Baylor shoe-in, NOT!! Jefferson chose NCAA championships and a really big and good FAMILY–UConn Women!!

  3. Jefferson—the best point guard in the USA –against Baylor. Sims came up short. 4 for 25 shooting, 7 turnovers, 2 assists. Jefferson `13 point 4 of 5 shooting, no turnovers, 7 assists, one block, 4 steals—and the stat that didn’t show up—She got 3 push off fouls called on Sims. She was in Sims face when she guarded her–Sims was always pushing Jefferson and got called for being a hot heat–or control freak.
    Geno –always short on praise–said he had the best Freshman Guard in Chong and the best Soph guard in the USA, Jefferson. REally high praise from a guy who’d rather insult players than compliment them.
    Stokes –from people who know WBB-said she is probably the best defensive player in the USA with more blocks. She did a great job on Cheney Ogwumike.

  4. Mike McManus says:

    A good point about Hartley….articles stated that Geno really ripped her at half time of the Baylor game and she did respond; that should not be necessary in dealing with a senior leader. Regarding Banks, I was hoping to see her recover and emerge to where she was before she was injured but that hasn’t happened yet. I was not aware of the shoving foul mentioned by ‘Husky Fan’ but she did commit one of the two stupid fouls against a 3-point shooter (Sims) that cost the team a total of 6 points. KML also should have known better.

  5. Mike McManus says:

    I felt like Mo was the best player on the floor last night and she epitomizes what Geno tries to embed in all of his players. She was relentless and displayed such energy throughout the game. Before her college career is over, she will be right up there with the best of UCONN’s point guards.

  6. The UConn Husky Fan says:

    Jefferson is quicker, has more talent, and plays better than sophomore level PG. Hartley still has those “what was that” and “are you kidding me” moments every game as a senior. The unfortunate season ending injury to Duke PG probably moves Hartley up the draft order. Banks junior season appears lost. That immature 2 handed shoving foul in a recent game and the lack of confidence Auriemma has in her recently might mean she will only see garbage time against Louisville, in the E8 and F4.