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UConn Wins, Stokes Shines

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UConn Wins, Stokes Shines

NBC Connecticut

It's not uncommon for the Huskies to score in the 80s. It's also not uncommon for their opponents -- particularly, the non-conference, small-school, early season teams -- to score somewhere in the 30s.

What is unusual, however, is for UConn to beat a ranked team by 51 points. But that's exactly what happened on Monday night when No. 24 North Carolina showed up in Storrs and then proceeded to take a beating courtesy of, well, just about everybody in a Huskies uniform.

Six players scored in double figures, with Bria Hartely leading the way with 17 (she also added 7 assists).

UConn shot 49 percent from the floor while holding UNC to 23 percent (and 11 percent from behind the arc).

"There were some times we played them when they were just way bigger, more athletic," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They took advantage of those things and had a lot more offensive players back then. I think that's the difference I see right now. I see they don't have as many offensive players as they used to have."

No, apparently not. The Huskies have now beaten the Tar Heels in five straight meetings, by an average margin of 32 points. But it gets worse for UNC, whose men's team was embarrassed by Florida State over the weekend. Details via the Associated Press:

North Carolina hit a new low against UConn, being embarrassed on national television. The Tar Heels, who won five of the first seven games against UConn, were held to their lowest offensive output ever, easily surpassing the previous record of 44 set in 1987 against N.C. State and equaled in 2000 against Georgia Tech.

“We don’t base our win off the score, but it’s still a little bit surprising for a program like that and a team like that," Kelly Faris, who had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists said afterwards. "You don’t expect, going into a game where you are going to play UNC, for there to be a gap in the score like that. So, it was a surprise.”

Also surprising: Kiah Stokes, the target of Auriemma's ire in previous days, so much so that she didn't play in the Huskies' last game against Villanova.

All Stokes did against the Tar Heels was score 11 points and grab 11 rebounds in 14 minutes on the court.

As  usual Auriemma's motivational tactics worked.

“I just mentally have to step it up," Stokes said Monday night. " I love the game and I need to show coach that every day. I think he has been pretty pleased with my progress up until now, but it is not enough and I have to keep going.”

Auriemma added: “I think [every game] is a learning opportunity and hopefully you take advantage of those opportunities when they come along. Kiah has certain skills that she can bring to the game and those skills are going to help our team, but those skills are never going to be on display, unless she has a certain mental approach to the game. Otherwise, she is just another kid that has some skills, if she doesn’t know how to apply it. Yesterday at practice, she had a really good day and she followed it up with a really good effort today.”

Stokes admitted that the college game barely resembles the one she dominated in high school.

“In high school I was never pushed to use my full ability. Coming here you never know what to expect, and when I got here it was a huge wake up call," she said. "They do everything so much harder and so much faster, and it took awhile to get used to. I’m still not fully adjusted but I am getting better every day.”

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