Huskie woman lose KML, beat Stanford 76-57.
STORRS: Let’s see, what weapon should I use now?
Who can get me say, 20 points when I’m not expecting them to?
These are the kind of questions that must go through UConn head coach Geno Auriemma’s head when he looks down his bench for something else to throw at an opponent who isn’t equipped to stop the full assault coming from the Huskies.
On Monday night in front of a national audience just two games into the season, most of those forces were put into play effectively in a 76-57 win over Stanford, a team that came in ranked # 3 in the country.
The top ranked Huskies survived a dreadful start that saw both clubs try their best not to score any points; it was 2-2 after four minutes.
If somebody told you that the team’s top three scorers, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson would each stay out of double figures (9 each) and they would still win by almost 20, you may think them slightly off.
That was the story on Monday night against the Cardinals but fear not, a rejuvenated Bria Hartley (20) led the way with a flash and aggressiveness not seen often during an injury plagued 2012-2013.
“Bria has not looked that good since her sophomore year,” Auriemma said. “She played great this week during practice and it continued tonight.”
The home team lost one of their All-American’s in Mosqueda-Lewis to a scary elbow injury during the second half when she went down hard pulling down a rebound and falling over the back of Stanford standout Chiney Ogwumike.
You could hear a pin drop in a stunned Gampel Pavilion as Mosqueda-Lewis screamed out for help when she landed hard on her elbow.
She left the floor and the report stated she had received an unspecific arm injury and would not return to the game.
How long may she be out?
“It’s always hard to tell,” Auriemma said. “People react differently to injuries. Sometimes when you think it’s something major, it turns out to be nothing. Other times a seemingly small injury turns out to be major.”
Known as one of the best shooters in the game today, KML will be missed but her teammates stepped up and continued to play an aggressive game on both ends against a Cardinal team that had two weapons, Ogwumike (16 points) and Amber Orrange (22 points) but little else.
“We need to start getting contributions from other players,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Amber and Chiney were terrific but we are still looking for more from others. Tonight showed us we are 20-points away from playing at UConn’s level. The good news for our team is that it won’t get any harder than it was tonight. We will grow from this.”
Both teams did struggle out of the gate, each shooting under 20 percent from the field until freshman Saniya Chong brought some instant offense with consecutive three pointers that woke up the team and the crowd of 9529.
That same crowd was pumped at the start when the Huskies unveiled another championship trophy before the game began, making the walls at Gampel even more crowded, certainly a nice problem to have.
Chong got the engine running, Hartley made sure it fired on all cylinders.
Kiah Stokes posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds while Morgan Tuck chipped in with 11 points and four boards.
That trio scored 41 points between them, two of them off the bench (Stokes and Tuck).
UConn shot under 40 percent on the night but did convert on 19 of 23 free throws.
The lead was 13 at the half and grew over 20 in the second half as the number one team in the country did nothing to dispel that thought.
The team will wait anxiously with the rest of Huskie Nation to see how one of the best (KML) is on Tuesday and move forward from there.
“It was pretty scary when it happened,” Hartley said. “I have never been through anything like that before. To hear her scream like that made a bunch of us shake.”
The Huskies go on the road to take on Maryland (Friday) and Penn State (Sunday) before returning to play at the XL Center next Wednesday when they take on Oregon.