Despite fears that junior guard Bria Hartley might be sidelined with an ankle injury for Tuesday's matchup with 15-ranked Louisville, the preseason All-American not only played, she contributed 16 points as the No. 3 Huskies rolled to a 72-58 victory.
The win moves them to 15-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Big East. More importantly, Geno Auriemma had Hartley on the floor even though freshman Breanna Stewart missed the second straight game with an ankle injury of her own.
"When (Hartley's) playing like she played tonight and has the attitude she played with tonight, she makes a huge difference," Auriemma said. … "I didn't have any expectations going in. One of those, 'let's see what happens.' She played a lot of minutes. I figured why not. She played like the old Bria. With the stretch we got coming up, I don't worry about her."
That stretch includes games against Syracuse, Duke, Cincy and Villanova over the next 10 days.
Against Louisville, center Stefanie Dolson added 16 points, and Kelly Faris (13) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (12) were also in double figures. The defense held Louisville to 34 percent shooting from the floor (21 percent from 3), and held the rebounding, 46-39.
"We couldn’t buy a lot of buckets in the first half," Auriemma conceded, "but our defense was as good as it’s been all year. We’ve become a pretty good defensive team. We’ve been good all year, but there are things about our defense that are getting better and there are things we still need to get better at. It’s that time of the year when the players that have been there before know what’s at stake and what is going on and now it’s their turn to make sure it gets done.”