Offense comes alive as UConn scores 94
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 22:02
Even as record performances go, this one was a spectacle.
The game may not have been close, but when the UConn women took on Marquette, Gampel Pavilion buzzed with each made shot.
That’s because most of those in attendance had never seen an offensive explosion like they witnessed Tuesday night.
The Huskies set new records and posted career-high numbers in bunches, but perhaps the most impressive tally was the one posted from long range, as they poured in 15 of their 23 three-point attempts of the evening.
“Ever since they put the line in, I’ve always thought that – we had a goal for the longest time to take at least 20 [three-point shots] a game,” UConn Coach Geno Auriemma said after the game. “I think you should use that as part of your offense as much as you use getting the ball in the lane or getting to the free throw line and I think if you don’t get to take advantage of the three-point line then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to score points.”
Auriemma’s team has certainly taken advantage of the arc so far this season, as entered the game No. 5 in the country with an average of 8.9 three-point field goals made per game.
“We have unbelievable talent to shoot from the outside, we really focus on it in practice” senior Caroline Doty said of the three-point shot’s importance to her team. “I mean if we make our shots from the outside, they’re going to have to pressure us and then we can get the ball inside and we have unbelievable posts. So if we do our deal with the threes, it’ll open up the lane.”
Junior center Stefanie Dolson echoed that sentiment.
“Every time they touch the ball – if their shots are going in like they are – the defense is just going to spread out and get up on them,” Dolson said. “You know, it opens up the lane for us to post up and for them to drive the basketball; and it makes rebounding a lot easier since they all go in.”
Multiple Huskies matched or came close to their career-high numbers for shots made from behind the arc, as Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis both drained five and Doty converted four from range.
As a trio, they combined to shoot 82 percent on 17 attempts from behind the arc.
“It feels great, to be honest,” Hartley said of hitting shots at such a high clip. “Especially in that second half, I didn’t think there was a shot that I was going to shoot that wasn’t going to go in, especially when you made that many in the game. It’s a great feeling.”
Even Dolson chipped in with her fifth career three-pointer.
“It’s always fun to get one,” Dolson said. “It was fun; I got to add my one to the 15. I would have felt really out of the loop if I didn’t get one.”
The Huskies were hitting outside shots with such regularity, that Auriemma actually called off the dogs at one point in the second half, saying he wanted to focus more on getting the ball inside and scoring in the paint for the rest of the game.
The strategy worked, as his squad posted 30 points in the paint on the night, helped in large part by the Golden Eagles being forced to respect the three-point shooters standing behind the arc.
Though they were able to hit 65 percent of their shots from range Tuesday, Auriemma said afterwards that he recognizes the potential pitfalls of shooting so many threes all of the time.
“Some nights you’re going to make five, and other nights you’re going to make 15,” Auriemma said. “But in less you take them, you’ll never know.”
Ironically, in the Huskies only loss of the season, against Notre Dame, they shot the same number of threes as they did against Marquette, 23, but hit just five.
The three-ball is an important part of the UConn strategy, and making them down the stretch in big games could be vital to how much the team succeeds during the remainder of the season.