Bria Hartley had scored at least 20 points in 14 of the first 132 games of her career, including a career-high 30 at Rutgers Sunday. Never before, though, had she scored 20 points in back-to-back games. The closest she had come was 19 once.
Hartley achieved another first in Wednesday’s win over Memphis, scoring 20 points in 26 minutes. She has reached 20 points in five games, matching her career-high set during her All-American season in 2011-12.
“I just think I have a different mentality right now,’’ Hartley said. “When I get that aggressive mentality than I’m really a better player. I’m just trying to really keep it that way for the rest of the season so I don’t have a slump like I did those last few games.
“I just think when you have that confidence going, it’s just crazy how much confidence can really help you out there on the court. If you’re a bad player, it can help you turn things around and if you’re a good player you can be really, really great.’’
Hartley has matched her season-high by scoring in double figures in four straight games (21.5). She has scored at least 17 points in each game during this stretch, which a five-game stretch that saw her average 9.6.
“That consistency is something I’ve been trying to maintain the entire year, which I don’t think I did terrible compared to last year,’’ Hartley said. “But you’ve just got to go out there and make sure you have that aggressive mentality and just constantly want to go out there … When you have more games line up that way, it just makes it a little bit easier to go out there and score and help your teammates out.’’
No longer is success measured by 20-win seasons. Not when the Huskies have won 30 games in an NCAA-record eight straight seasons and in 18 of the last 20 seasons overall.
But in the interest of recognizing the smaller accomplishments, UConn has now won 20 games in 21 straight seasons and in 25 of the last 26.
“I think the thing is once that you get rolling and once you get winning and once you get a certain kind of level of talent to come play for you in your program, it certainly makes that way more possible and that’s what we’ve been able to do,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “So that’s the starting point. And then we’ve been able to kind of create a culture where that’s expected, and that’s not easy to do.’’
Said Hartley: “Here at Connecticut you expect it. Twenty wins, really? We expect 30 wins or more and to win the national championship. It’s a great accomplishment, but our standards are a little higher than that.’’