Breanna Stewart missed her first seven shots Saturday against BYU before scoring on a layup with 1:03 left in the first half. Looking to get inside more frequently in the second half, she scored on three layups in the first 3:40.
But that did little to sooth her emotions. The Huskies still were not playing well offensively. They led 49-41 with 12:35 left in the game, and with Bria Hartley was at the free throw line Coach Geno Auriemma called Stewart over for a chat.
“Sometimes you just want it so bad that you can’t get it, and you get frustrated,’’ Auriemma said. “I thought Stewie missed so many shots early on that I think it started to bother her. She was getting mad, and we could see it all over her face.
“I was standing right next to her. We were shooting a free throw, and I said, `Stewie come here.’ And she came over and stood next to me. When Stewie’s getting a little frustrated her eyes start like wandering a little bit. So I said, `Don’t be looking around Stewie,’ and she started laughing. And I looked down and you could actually see her shirt was moving her heart was beating so fast. I just said, `Take a deep breath, man. You’re going 100 miles per hour. Relax.’ Sometimes that’s all they need to hear.’’
Stewart responded 50 seconds later by hitting a midrange jumper off an inbounds play with four seconds left on the shot clock to give the Huskies a 52-41 lead. She would later add a pair of free throws and another putback as they finished the game with an 18-5 run.
Stewart said the moment that she shared with Auriemma was significant.
“In the moment I wasn’t paying attention to my heartbeat, but once he said it I could feel heart beating fast because he was touching my back so I could feel my heart beating,’’ Stewart said. “But I just think it was the emotions of the game. It’s always nice to just have him calm you down.
“And I think that I wanted to be able to be so helpful to my team just because I feel like that’s one of the roles that I take on. And the fact that it wasn’t working so well on the offensive end I was kind of getting a little excited inside. He calmed me down a little bit. Shots still didn’t go in, but I think it’s always good to just have him calm you down. He’s obviously the best coach in the country. So he knows how to get his players to get their minds right.’’