I'm pretty sure that UConn Huskies women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma is glad he has Kelly Faris on his team. Because if he didn't, there's a chance that his team might have suffered it's second loss of the season.
Faris came up huge late with five straight points to help UConn seize control of the game as they held on to win 71-65 over the St. John's Red Storm in front of 2,158 at Lou Carnesecca Arena in Queens, NY on Saturday afternoon.
It's the 20th win of the season for the Huskies as they improve to 20-1 (7-1 Big East). The Red Storm fall to 10-10 (4-4).
Remember folks, St. John's came into Gampel Pavilion last year and ended UConn's 99 game home winning streak on UConn's Senior Day. It ended a bunch of other streaks as well.
The Huskies were playing shorthanded as they were without Stefanie Dolson who was battling flu-like symptoms. They also lost Brianna Banks to knee injury during the game. It was announced as a knee sprain and we won't speculate as to the severity of the injury.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led the Huskies with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Faris added 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Despite shooting 3-for-13 from the floor, Bria Hartley finished with 10 points.
Kiah Stokes made her first career start for Dolson and had seven points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
Shenneika Smith led all scorers in the game with 21 points for the Johnnies. Aliyyah Handford added 17 points while Briana Brown had 16 points.
Amber Thompson led the Red Storm with eight rebounds to go along with four points.
It's not too often we have to see the Huskies work hard for 40 minutes. That usually happens when they have play a highly ranked team not one that was entering the game at 10-9.
St. John's led for the first part of the first half until a Banks layup gave them the lead at 18-17. A KML three and Breanna Stewart free throw gave the Huskies a five point lead. They would work their lead to eight at 32-24 but St. John's closed out the half on a 11-3 run to enter the locker room tied at 35.
St. John's started off the half on a 10-4 run before the Huskies responded back with a 7-0 run to grab a one-point lead. The Red Storm went back out in front again but UConn once again rallied and took the lead on a Faris three.
The Red Storm tied it up at 57 but KML went on a personal 7-0 run to help the Huskies take control off the game. Faris added a three to ice the game at the end.
The injury to Banks is concerning as she's been give the Huskies some great minutes off the bench this season. If she's lost for the season, Moriah Jefferson will need to step up.
While it wasn't a good win for the Huskies, it was a win. It was also a great learning for the team especially the younger players who haven't had to face that much adversity yet.
UConn gets back on the court on Tuesday when they'll host the Marquette Golden Eagles at Gampel Pavilion. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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photo credit: ap photo (no. 5 in gallery)