The story of the night wasn't that UConn cruised to its 27th win of the season, this time a 83-35 decision over the University of Central Florida, but that in the process of doing so Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart reached personal milestones in the process.
Hartley, a senior guard, became only the third player in school history (joining Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore) to have 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. The achievement led the crowd of more than 9,000 to give her a mid-game standing ovation.
Listed at 5-8, Hartley is the shortest Husky to pull 500 rebounds.
"I’m technically 5-9. I’m just saying …,” she said laughing, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec.
“Diana was one of the players that I looked up to and being able to play with Maya was awesome. To be in a category with them is awesome. Coach always says to dream really big and that way you can meet them and go past them. I always looked up to players like Diana and Maya and that’s why I wanted to be here. I want to be considered a player that could be as good as they are.”
Afterwards, coach Geno Auriemma spoke glowingly of Hartley.
“You look at Bria and it’s hard to pick out real, real, real highs for her because she’s been so consistent,” he said. “There’s no 40-point games. There are no games where she makes 10 threes. You just look at her entire career …
“She’s like Derek Jeter. She came in as a young kid and you can count on her every game pretty much. She shows up. She plays as hard as she can. She’s my wife’s favorite player, I know that. So that means something. And that’s saying a lot when your coaches can pretty much count on you every single day in practice and every night that we play no matter who we play, no matter where we play. And everything that she gets she deserves. She’s had an All-American season and I don’t think anybody on our coaching staff is surprised or anybody on our team is surprised.”
Meanwhile, Stewart, a sophomore who has emerged as arguably the best player in the country, wasted little time Wednesday scoring her 1,000th career point. She ended the night with 23 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots.
“Scoring 1,000 points is a really cool honor and to be able to have my family here just to watch it, that meant a lot to me,” Stewart said. “I think they appreciate it. I don’t know if they came to this game just because of that.
“My parents helped me stay humble through my high school career and on to college. That they weren’t aware of it either until now rubs off on me.”