Faris a shooting star in UConn win

By Carl Adamec

Kelly Faris has played dozens of games at the XL Center in Hartford but for a night Wednesday is seemed like she was back at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis.

Instead of passing the ball to Claire Freeman like she did in winning four straight Indiana high school championships, there were layups for Stefanie Dolson. She filled the stat sheet with her rebounds and steals. But then there was a 3-pointer as well as a four-point play — the first of her college career.

Faris was, well, Faris as she led No. 2 UConn to a 101-41 rout of Colgate Wednesday before a crowd of 7,934.

“Honestly, this team is kind of like it was in high school,” Faris said. “It’s a different level, obviously, but this is was it was like with my high school and AAU teams. We had so many options and we wanted everybody to score and it was just a huge team effort. That’s what we’re doing right now and as long as we can keep that up … There are still a ton of things we need to work on and we know that. Right now, there are a lot of good things too.”

Faris finished with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 21 minutes. She had 15 points in the first half when the game was decided.

Most of those numbers are nothing new. The Plainfield, Ind., native spent her first three seasons at UConn doing about everything well — with the exception of shooting the ball. Coming into her senior year Faris shot just 41.9 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from 3-point land on what is perennially one of the nation’s top-shooting teams.

But through six games of the 2012-13 season, she has been different. She entered Wednesday’s game leading the Big East in field-goal percentage and was tied for first place with South Florida’s Andrea Smith in 3-point shooting. Against Colgate, she only helped her cause. Faris was 5-for-6 from the floor and made all three of her tries from 3-point land. With her effort, she raised her shooting percentage to 75.0 percent from the floor and 64.3 percent from behind the arc.

“I talk to people all the time and they talk about how hard she works,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t know of anyone that’s worked harder than Kelly and no one deserves to be rewarded more than she does. There’s always going to be a spot for her on any team at any level because making shots is just a bonus when you have someone like Kelly. You look at her stat sheet tonight and it’s impressive for someone to do all that.

“Like someone (associate head coach Chris Dailey) said at practice a couple of weeks ago, ‘We’re going to miss her.’ Not yet.”

The Huskies are 6-0 with games against No. 11 Maryland Monday in the Jimmy V Classic at the XL Center and No. 6 Penn State at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 6 on deck.

UConn, which has not trailed in a game since giving up the first basket of the season to College of Charleston on Nov. 11, scored the first 12 points against Colgate.

Two baskets by Stefanie Dolson got it started and Faris followed with her four-point play. Hoops by Breanna Stewart and Dolson capped the run.

It was 49-22 at halftime and Colgate (2-4) got no closer than 26 the rest of the way. Heather Buck’s layup put UConn in triple figures.

UConn shot 54 percent from the floor and had 28 assists on 40 field goals. Seven players had at least three assists.

“Everybody has a sense of how good it feels right now,” Faris said. “It’s different than last year in a good way. The chemistry right now is good.

“We have a lot of unselfish people and that’s key in making the team effort work. We have a lot of smart players that make good decisions with their passes and we have a lot of people can knock shots down. Put it all together and this is what you get.”

Sophomore Brianna Banks’ strong start continued as she finished with a career high 20 points to go along with three rebounds, five assists, no turnovers, and four steals in 25 minutes. Again, she credited her confidence and new-found strong mental approach for her effort.

“In high school either you’re bigger or stronger than everyone so you really don’t have to think about the game,” Banks said. “When you get into college everybody is the same, everybody is an All-American so you have to out-think everyone. It was hard for me at first. The coaches have taught me a lot and Shea (assistant coach Ralph) has been harping on me a lot and she’s helped me a lot with the mental part of the game.”

Dolson (18) and Stewart 12 rounded out UConn’s double-figure scorers. Stewart also had a game high eight rebounds. Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis missed the game with a concussion and her status will be re-evaluated Friday when the Huskies return to practice.

Jhazmine Lynch led Colgate (2-4) with nine points.