Stefanie Dolson Named Defensive Player of the Year and Earns Sportsmanship Award. AAC Awards start to flow.
STORRS, Conn. – The UConn women’s basketball team placed seven players on American Athletic Conference regular season teams in awards announced Thursday afternoon by the league. Stefanie Dolson headlined the group, earning Defensive Player of the Year, the American Sportsmanshp Award and a spot on the All-Conference First Team. Joining Dolson as First Team selections were Bria Hartley, Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart. Juniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes landed on the All-Conference Second Team while rookie Saniya Chong received was an All-Freshman team choice.
Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) becomes the fourth Husky to earn a Defensive Player of the Year nod, though the three previous recipients came under the former Big East Banner. Most recently, Kelly Faris received the title from the Big East last season and was the first Husky since 2003 to claim the distinction. Dolson has posted 71 blocks this season as she and teammates Breanna Stewart and Kiah Stokes became the first Husky trio to reach 50 blocks apiece in one season. The three also helped UConn break the program’s single-season record of 250 blocks set in 1994-95. The Huskies crashed through that marker, entering this weekend’s American Conference Championship with 261 rejections. Dolson also boasts the second-highest rebounding average in the conference at 9.1 board per game and leads the league in defensive rebounds with 214.
Dolson also ranks third in the team in both scoring and assists with 12.4 points per game and 130 helpers. Her 56.6 field goal percentage ranks second-best in the conference and she leads the American in free throw percentage at 78.5. Dolson was also recognized as the co-recipient of the league’s Sportsmanship Award, which she shares with Louisville’s Tia Gibbs. The senior center also earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team with her stellar play after landing on the All-Big East First Team last season, Honorable Mention status in 2011-12 and receiving a spot All-Rookie Team in 2010-11.
Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) joined her classmate as a unanimous choice on the All-Conference First Team. The New York native was named to the All-Big East First Team in 2011-12, a Second team choice in 2010-11, an All-Rookie selection in her freshman season and, last year, garnered Honorable Mention. The senior has posted career numbers so far in her final season at UConn, ranking second on the team in scoring with 16.6 points per game and accumulating 130 assists. On Jan. 26 Hartley became just the third UConn player to tally 1,500points/500 assists/500 rebounds in her career, joining the ranks of illustrious former Huskies Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi.
Hartley has set career-highs in both points and assists this season, knocking down 30 points at Rutgers on Jan. 19 and dishing out 11 assists at Temple on Jan.28. The senior has been selected as American Athletic Conference Player of the Week twice this season, including National Player of the Week honors by the USBWA. She, along with Dolson and Stewart, is a finalist national semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy. Hartley and Moriah Jefferson are also finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, bestowed on the top point guard in women’s college basketball.
Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas) earned a spot on the First Team thanks to a breakout sophomore campaign in which she has been a key starter for the Huskies. A member of the 2012-13 Big East All-Rookie Team, Jefferson has consistently performed at a high level this season. Jefferson leads the conference in assists (5.2 per game), field goal percentage (56.9 percent) and assist to turnover ratio (3.0) in addition to ranking second in steals with 81. She has far surpassed her freshman year numbers in almost every category, nearly doubling her 79 helpers from 2012-13. In February, Jefferson was added as a finalist for the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award.
Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.), the American Athletic Conference selection for Preseason Player of the Year and AP Preseason All-American, rounds out UConn’s All-Conference First Team choices. Stewart averages 19.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per contest this season for the Huskies. She has hit double-digits in 28 games including a stretch of 22 consecutive games scoring double-figures dating back to Dec. 1. Moreover, the sophomore has netted 20 points or more in 16 games this season. In UConn’s last seven games the 6-4 forward averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. The sophomore standout is a four-time American player of the week choice and received a National Player of the Week nod from the USBWA on Dec. 23. Against UCF on Feb. 19, Stewart became just the fifth Husky sophomore and second-fastest UConn player to reach surpass 1,000 career points.
Fighting through a challenging junior season to earn Second Team All-Conference is Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim Hills, Calif.). An elbow injury against Stanford on Nov. 11 sidelined the sharpshooter for eight games, but she returned with a bang by knocking down a career-high seven three-pointers against No. 2 Duke on Dec. 17. Mosqueda-Lewis steadily climbed back, posting another pair of 21 point games in the two-game contest against Memphis. After scoring 13 points against then-No. 4 Louisville on Feb. 9, the California native was sidelined for four games with mononucleosis but again rebounded strong in her return performance. In the rematch with No. 3 Louisville to close out the regular season, the forward posted her second double-double of the season to pace the Huskies in the early going. She enters the conference tournament averaging 12.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and shooting 46 percent from the floor.
Kiah Stokes (Marion, Iowa) collects the second postseason award of her career after being named to the Big East All-Rookie team in 2011-12. The junior has been a rebounding machine this season, bringing down 7.4 boards per game while averaging 19.3 minutes per contest. The center has also been a menace for opposing teams’ in the paint, blocking 76 shots on the season.
Rookie Saniya Chong (Ossining, N.Y.) earned her first postseason accolades as a Husky with as an American All-Freshman Team selection. Chong averages 5.7 points and logs 20 minutes per game for the Huskies, but received her first four starts in Mosqueda-Lewis absence. The freshman posted a breakout game against UCF on Deb. 19, going 7-for-13 from the floor and chasing down 13 rebounds for her first career double-double.
The American Athletic Conference will announce its selections for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year at a press conference tomorrow on Friday, March 7. To watch the event live, follow THIS LINK to The American Digital Network with host Tara Petrolino. The Digital Network will provide wraparound coverage and highlights of the Championship this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena.
American Defensive Player of the Year
Stefanie Dolson, UConn, Sr., C
American Most Improved Player of the Year
Asia Taylor, Louisville, R-Sr., F
American Sportsmanship Award
Stefanie Dolson, UConn, Sr., C
Tia Gibbs, Louisville, R-Sr., G
American Sixth Player of the Year
Rateska Brown, Temple, Jr., G
All-Conference First Team
*Stefanie Dolson, UConn, Sr., C
*Bria Hartley, UConn, Sr., G
Moriah Jefferson, UConn, So., G
*Breanna Stewart, UConn, So., F
Sara Hammond, Louisville, Jr., F
Asia Taylor, Louisville, R-Sr., F
*Shoni Schimmel, Louisville, Sr., G
Ariel Hearn, Memphis, So., G
Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, So., G
Courtney Williams, USF, So., G
*Keena Mays, SMU, Sr., G
All-Conference Second Team
Jeanise Randolph, Cincinnati, Sr., F
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn, Jr., F
Kiah Stokes, UConn, Jr., C
Bria Smith, Louisville, Jr., G
Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, Jr., G/F
Tyler Scaife, Rutgers, Fr., G
Alisia Jenkins, USF, So., F
Inga Orekhova, USF, Sr., G
Akil Simpson, SMU, Sr., F
Feyonda Fitzgerald, Temple, Fr., G
Natasha Thames, Temple, R-Sr., F
*Zykira Lewis, UCF, Fr., G
Bianca Quisenberry, Cincinnati, Fr., G
Saniya Chong, UConn, Fr., G
Emmonnie Henderson, Louisville, Fr., F
Breigha Wilder-Cochran, Memphis, Fr., G
Mooriah Rowser, Memphis, R-Fr., G
*Tyler Scaife, Rutgers, Fr., G
Ariadna Pujol, USF, Fr., G
*Kiara Perry, SMU, Fr., G
*Feyonda Fitzgerald, Temple, Fr., G
Taylor Robinson, Temple, Fr., C
[*] denotes unanimous pick