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Stokes sticks triple-double in Huskies 87-32 rout of ECU.

POSTED January 29, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Morgan Tuck scored a team high 17 as the UConn Huskies blasted by ECU by a 87-32 score at the XL Center on Wednesday night.

HARTFORD: When a large object is imposingly standing in your way, why would one try to run through it?

You could ask any number of the teams who had the misfortune of trying to do just that against the UConn Huskies in general and Kiah Stokes in particular this season

The East Carolina Pirates found out the hard way on Wednesday night in Hartford against the second ranked team in the nation in an 87-32 loss that saw Stokes put up the rejection sign 10 times in the midst of the fourth ever triple double in school history (11 boards and 10 points to boot).

"She's in a defensive mindset right now that I think very few players can get to that comfort level," head coach Geno Auriemma said, "Where they know they can take chances and that they can impact any shot that they want to impact. I've seen people do that in the past, I'm don't know that I've seen anybody do it as consistently and as often as Kiah's doing it."

Her ten blocks set a new game record that had been held by three players and she is on pace to break former Huskies great Rebecca Lobo's record of 131 in a season.

Stokes stand at 93 after Wednesday and has 10 more conference games to beat the mark plus the post season. Consider that record gone.

The home team dominated in the paint, outscoring the undersized Pirates to the tune of 66-18 and outrebounded them by a 49-29 mark.  

For once, UConn did not jump out to a double digit lead, the Pirates enjoyed a very, very short lived 2-0 lead (eight seconds to be exact) before the Huskies rolled out to a 47-18 lead at the break.

What is truly astounding is that two of the team’s best scorers, Breanna Stewart (14) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (6) are having to be asked to carry the load on the offensive side, now that Morgan Tuck (game high 17) has become the go-to player inside, especially against smaller teams like the Pirates.

Stewart and Tuck have become a very special combination for the Huskies.

"A lot of it is just working together during the day at practice," Auriemma said. "Both Stewie and Morgan have similar skills sets. They're both pretty good ball handlers, they're both pretty good shooters and passers. They feel comfortable around each other. There is a comfort level that if Stewie throws a pass, Morgan is going to catch it." 

For the Huskies, it's not about the opponent, hasn't been very often this season with the wins coming by nearly 50 plus points in eight January wins.

"We have goals within the game," Moriah Jefferson said, "I think that we don't always meet them."

Jefferson provided the only drama of the night when she went down hard eight minutes into the game and stayed down while a hushed XL Center held their breath.

Injuries a year ago gave UConn many a challenge as they played with seven scholarship players at one point but in this year’s version of domination, the injury bug has been absent and the depth off the bench has been better.

Not that those players coming off the bench have been playing remarkably but certain players have stepped up.

Take Gabby Williams who had another strong game with 11 points and five rebounds.

"I think Gabby is making the most progress," Auriemma said. "She's becoming the most consistent. I think she made the biggest jump from two months ago to now."

Williams is asking for the ball down low and is going to the basket with authority after running into the proverbial freshman wall earlier this month.

UConn had 24 assists on 36 baskets but committed 15 turnovers, 11 in the second half when things were out of reach, per usual.

What was it like to see the defensive force that Stokes has become from the hardwood?

"She killed it," Jefferson said, "its crazy, I don't know why people keep going in there but hey, be my guest. Keep letting her get triple-doubles."

NOTES: There is a milestone for Auriemma on the horizon. His win total stands at 898 at present with a road game at Temple on Sunday and a game at the XL Center next Tuesday when he can hit the 900 mark.

The Huskies won their 18th in a row and have yet to be challenged in the American Athletic Conference where they are now 9-0.

ECU falls to 13-8 overall and 4-6 in the AAC.

UConn shot 60 percent for the game while visitors hit on just 22 percent, 19 in the second half. 

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