Stokes Provided Huskies With Big Spark Vs. Stanford

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The Huskies were looking for a spark tonight against Stanford. And they found one in reserve center Kiah Stokes. Yes, the same Kiah Stokes that has been in and out Geno Auriemma’s doghouse her entire career.

In the biggest game of the season to date, Stokes provided UConn with nine points (4-of-4 FG), four rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 22 minutes in a 75-56 win over Stanford in the NCAA national semifinals. Standing at her locker following the game, she was feeling pretty good about herself. And she had every right to be.

“I think it’s a big step for me, personally,’’ Stokes said. “I know my teammates got a little more confidence in me today. And I know the coaches, they expect that from me. They’re like, `You can do this every day if you wanted to.’ So it’s good to know that they’re still sticking with me, my teammates are still sticking with me. But it’s one thing I’ve just got to do it again in practice tomorrow and then in the game Tuesday (against Notre Dame).’’

It was the most points that Stokes had scored since finishing with 10 against Houston Jan. 7. She had scored 13 points in the last seven games combined.

Stokes had a free throw and scored off a move in the lane during a 12-2 run to end the first half. She later scored on a putback and a layup on back-to-back possessions in the second half to give the Huskies a 67-52 lead with 3:24 left.

“Kiah’s really stepped up this tournament,’’ senior Stefanie Dolson said. “Every weekend and then this one, especially. She came in and did exactly what we need from her. Rebounding. She posted up. Got great shots in there. And really was such a spark for us.’’

“Kiah came in and was a monster,’’ sophomore Breanna Stewart said. “She was making post moves. Guarding Chiney (Ogwumike). Getting rebounds, blocks. And that’s the kind of contribution we need from her.’’

Stokes is averaging 3.4 points (7-of-11 FG), 6.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes in the NCAA tournament as UConn’s lone reserve that is seeing quality playing time.

“I think it helps build her confidence,’’ senior Bria Hartley said. “Kiah has so much potential and she can be a really great player. But when her confidence is up there she plays her best. And I’m glad she had it right now so going into this national championship game I know we can depend on her.’’

Rich

Categories: General

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2 Responses

  1. Mike McManus says:

    Well stated Steve. Stokes is one of my favorites and I love to see her play up to her abilities…they will need her to do so tomorrow night. I agree with your win or lose philosophy though I hate to see them lose. I’m disturbed about Muffet’s comments about Geno and UCONN so losing to her would hurt a bit more. We didn’t need the hype and finger-pointing 24 hrs before the game…..why not just leave it as a premiere meeting between two great undefeated teams?

  2. Steve R says:

    Amen to your highlighting Kia Stokes who was the difference in winning and losing tonight. Kia truly stepped it up tonight and her effort was an enormous contribution. I hope she will use this experience to build her confidence and continue to play the kind of basketball of which she is so clearly capable. Kudos to the whole team for showing that Geno’s “team” philosophy works particularly when the stars are not shining as brightly as usual. We saw self confidence and a refusal to quit or be bowed by the entire team. As for Stewart and KML, they showed they would never quit and they played through the problems they were having. Stefanie Dolson showed why she is everyone’s favorite player. She owned Chiney…again. Best wishes Tuesday. We hope for a win, but whatever the result,you have made us all proud and given us a great season. Thanks