Stewie goes past 2,000 points. Rich Elliott has the story.
By Rich Elliott
HARTFORD – Utilizing a foundation based on a team-first mantra, individual milestones are often downplayed at UConn. Nothing changed Monday at the XL Center.
There was no raucous postgame celebration honoring senior All-American Breanna Stewart, the reigning two-time national Player of the Year. She reached the 2,000-point plateau in the second half of a 97-57 victory over Kansas State before 8,369.
And as expected, she remained humble.
Stewart kept her remarks regarding her latest accomplishment to a minimum. Instead, it was Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma and fellow senior All-American Moriah Jefferson who heaped praise on Stewart.
``I think to play here you have to be that type of person,’’ Jefferson said. ``Those are the types of young women that Coach recruits and I think it shows a lot about her. She knows she’s like the best player in the world and she doesn’t really have to go around saying anything about it. Just come out and prove it every day.’’
Stewart becomes the ninth player in team history to score 2,000 points. However, she is the third fastest to eclipse the mark in team history, doing so in 117 career games (2,009; 17.1).
Maya Moore reached 2,000 in 108 games. Kerry Bascom did so in 113.
``You don’t take as much pride in it or think about it as much now,’’ Stewart said. ``But after my career is over just to know the kind of impact you had individually but also as part of a team.’’
Said Auriemma: ``When it’s all said and done and you finish playing and you go, `wow,’ and look back … That’s a lot of points. We’ve had a lot of guys score a lot of points. She’s like the ninth, right, to get 2,000? I don’t know the numbers around the country, but that’s a lot for one program in not such a long time. And she just embodies all that. She’s part of the culture that allows that to happen. And when people pass Stewie the ball they expect her to shoot it on our team. And when she’s not open they expect her to pass it. So because she’s like that every time she’s open they give her the ball where as maybe that doesn’t happen at other places. I don’t know.’’
Stewart’s latest step in her ongoing ascension in the UConn record books came on a night in which she again assembled a stat line befitting a player of her superior skill set. She finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals in 31 minutes as the top-ranked Huskies won their 23rd straight home opener on the 30th anniversary of Auriemma’s first game at UConn – a 73-67 win at Iona.
Gabby Williams finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in recording her second straight double-double for the Huskies. Jefferson added 14 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Morgan Tuck had 15 points and six rebounds.
``It’s definitely a nice little stat line,’’ Stewart said. ``I should be having a double-double (every game), basically. But if I can maintain the assists, keep them high … Just an all-around game. That’s what you want to see as a player individually and even for your teammates.’’
Said Jefferson: ``Stewie comes out every night and she does something different. And I think people don’t realize it as much because she scores so many points. But she’s a great screener. She’s a great rebounder. And she also can block shots really well.’’
Stewart surpassed 2,000 points on a 3-pointer from the corner off a pass from Jefferson with 4:22 left in the third quarter. She received a standing ovation from the crowd after the accomplishment was announced during a media timeout 71 seconds later.
It was the second 3-pointer in a span of 46 seconds for Stewart, who scored 11 points in the quarter.
``Stewie’s amazing,’’ Jefferson said. ``So any time you get her the ball, for the most part, she’s going to knock in shots. And so any time I had the ball I was looking for her and she was right in the corner knocking in that corner 3.’’
Stewart is averaging 12.7 field goal attempts in her career, which makes the fact that she reached 2,000 points this quickly even more impressive.
Overall, she also ranks 10th in team history in rebounding (873) and fifth in blocks (295) and has generated 288 assists and 168 steals.
``There’s not a day that goes by where she’s not trying to figure out a way to get better,’’ Auriemma said. ``It’s hard to get more stuff into a stat sheet than she gets. She’s playing really, really well right now. She just has the wherewithal to do things when we need them done. That’s kind of same as what Maya did and (Diana Taurasi) did. And all the great ones.’’