Women's Basketball Notebook: Huskies up the urgency for postseason
Kalana Greene drives to the hoop against Providence. The Daily Campus
UNCASVILLE - For a team that steamrolled opponents by an average of 36.7 points per game, the regular season can be a grind against monotony, fighting the urge to become complacent and content with coasting by on talent alone.
The postseason, then, when each game is of crucial importance and one off night can spoil a season, is the time that UConn enjoys most.
"Everyone says 'Every game is equal, every game is the same,'" Dolson said. "But ultimately this is postseason, tournament time, you lose you're out. So it just kind of ups the ante for all the games and makes it more exciting to play in them and we have a lot more fun."
Dolson in particular seems to enjoy the dawn of March Madness. In the Huskies' 72-42 win over No. 8-seed Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals Saturday, she posted a balanced effort of 10 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. Those numbers continued a trend from last season when she averaged a double-double in the Big East Tournament.
"I'm really surprised I didn't get [a 10th rebound], I felt like I was really rebounding the ball," Dolson said with a half-hearted growl. "I really would've liked to, I always go into the game and try to get a double-double."
Breanna Stewart, who averaged 17 points and five rebounds in the conference tournament last year and was later names the Most Outstanding Player of last year's Final Four, also picked up where she left off last postseason.
The sophomore forward scored 22 points on 6 of 12 shooting. But she really made her mark was at the charity stripe, where she went 9-for-9.
"I was really happy with that," Stewart said. "You know, sometimes I settle and I just really wanted to get to the basket and either get fouled or get an easier shot, and I was able to convert at the free-throw line."
Another Cincy blowout
There's no two ways about it: UConn loves playing the Bearcats.
Following Saturday, the Huskies have now beaten Cincinnati three times this season by a combined 120 points. In total, UConn is 11-0 all-time against the Bearcats and have won by an average of 30.8 points.
Though they didn't exactly match their 57-point crushing of Cincinnati from Feb. 1 this time around, the Huskies certainly did more than enough to dominate.
UConn shot 47.3 percent to the Bearcats' 32 percent. The Huskies got to the line 17 times while limiting Cincinnati to just six free-throw attempts. They also won the rebound battle, 35-28.
Still, Geno Auriemma and his players left wanting more.
A relatively slow start allowed the Bearcats to hang around early and keep the score within 17-13 over the first 10 minutes before UConn began to grab hold of the game.
"We were just saying that the games in the tournament usually have a tendency to be much different than the ones during the regular season," Auriemma said. "You're playing someone for the third time and I thought it took us a little longer than I wanted it to for us to get going defensively. I thought we were just OK at the beginning."
Huskies grabbing hardware
Thursday it was announced that six Huskies - Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Moriah Jefferson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes - made either the All-Conference First or Second Team. Dolson was also shared the league's Sportsmanship Award with Louisville's Tia Gibbs.
Friday, they continued picking up the individual accolades. Geno Auriemma was named Conference Coach of the Year - his 11th such award - and Stewart earned the Player of the Year nod, becoming the 12th UConn player to win the honor.
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