By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — To her future college coach, Saniya Chong’s selection to play in the WBCA High School All-America Game was a reward for all the work she’s put in.
“You feel great for kids when they get honors. You really do,” UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma said Tuesday night after his third-ranked Huskies routed Marquette 94-37 at Gampel Pavilion. “You’re a high school kid and you just go out and play and the next thing you know you get a call and they say,’ You’re a WBCA All-American.’ It’s great for her. She’s put a lot of time and effort into this game.”
UConn’s lone recruit for next season was one of 20 players nationwide selected to play in the WBCA game that will be held Saturday, April 6, at New Orleans Arena.
Chong, a 5-foot-9 guard from Ossining, N.Y., is averaging 35.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 9.6 assists, and 1.9 blocked shots per game for Ossining (12-4), according to maxpreps.com. She needs 39 points to break the 26-year-old New York Section 1 scoring record of 2,662 points held by Karen O’Connor. Ossining faces Blind Brook in its next-to-last regular season game Wednesday night.
Six current Huskies — junior Bria Hartley, sophomores Kiah Stokes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and the freshman class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart, and Morgan Tuck — were chosen to play in the WBCA game as high school seniors. Senior Kelly Faris, junior Stefanie Dolson, and sophomore Brianna Banks were McDonald’s All-Americans but not picked for the WBCA game.
“When people vote on things, that’s meaningful but only to a point,” Auriemma said. “When Kelly Faris was coming out of high school, the coaches from the country didn’t think she was good enough to be a WBCA All-American. I don’t know what the criteria is but I guess they felt Saniya’s criteria fit the bill. I’m happy for her.”
Last month, Chong was nominated for McDonald’s All-America Game.
Banks watched Tuesday night’s game from what will be her new seat on the bench next to athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle. She is out for the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee suffered Saturday at St. John’s. No date has been set for her surgery.
Auriemma had only nine players available Tuesday night as Tuck (right knee bone bruise) was held out. It’s the fourth game she’s missed with the knee problem.
“I intended on playing her but she said she felt something funny during warmups,” Auriemma said. “So Rosemary said it would be best if we didn’t.”
With the lopsided score, Auriemma was able to spread out the playing time. The top eight played from 20-27 minutes with Buck getting in for the final 9:14.
UConn is 47-0 against the Conference USA 5 since they joined the Big East at the start of 2005-06 season. The Huskies play another one of those schools, DePaul, at Gampel Pavilion Sunday at 3:30 p.m. … Dolson, who missed Saturday’s game at St. John’s with a stomach ailment, didn’t miss a beat as she had 15 points, four rebounds, and four blocked shots in 23 minutes. The Huskies’ center, who leads the nation in field-goal percentage, helped her cause by making 6-of-8 shots from the floor … Attendance was announced at 6,430, though the crowd appeared smaller … UConn shot better from 3-point land (15-for-23, 65.2 percent) than it did from the foul line (9-for-15, 60.0 percent) Tuesday nigh