UConn hopes Doty can turn back time

By Carl Adamec

HARTFORD, Conn. — She’s played 36 minutes in a national championship game without committing a turnover. That same night in San Antonio she hit a pair of second-half 3-pointers that her coach called the two biggest threes of a perfect season.

As Caroline Doty approaches her Senior Day and with just weeks remaining in her career with the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, can she turn back the clock and help the Huskies to a third NCAA title in her five years in Storrs?

“There comes a time … For one game in March you have to make them, whenever that is,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the third-ranked Huskies’ 76-70 loss to No. 1 Baylor Monday night at the XL Center. “If we don’t, we’ll lose that day. It’s not like we’ve never made them so we’re not asking them to do something they’ve never done.”

Doty has been there and done that. In the 2010 national championship game against Stanford, she played 36 minutes and had three assists without a turnover. She also scored eight second-half points and nailed a pair of treys as the Huskies broke open a tight game and held on for a 53-47 win over the Cardinal to complete a second straight 39-0 season.

Of course, she is limited physically by her three-time surgically repaired left knee. But after 117 career games with 114 starts she should be mentally with it game-in and game-out. Game 118 Monday night wasn’t her night.

“Caroline came to the bench and said, ‘Man, I’m a dumbass tonight,’ ” Auriemma said . “I said, ‘You’re a dumbass a lot of nights. Tonight just happens to be a real important night.’ “

Doty played 17 minutes against the Bears. She had no points. She missed four 3-pointers in the first half when the Huskies had Baylor on the ropes. She had two assists and one turnover.

But the performance continued a disturbing trend when you figure UConn’s road to the national championship could very easily mean having to beat Notre Dame and Baylor back-to-back in New Orleans.

The Doylestown, Pa., native has played three career games against Baylor, including the 2010 Final Four semifinals at the Alamodome in San Antonio. In 58 minutes, she has no points, four rebounds, six assists, and three turnovers. She is 0-for-10 from the floor, 0-for-8 from behind the arc.

It’s not any better against Notre Dame. Since making a layup with 3:49 left in regulation in a Jan. 7, 2012, game in South Bend, Doty has played 89 minutes against the Irish. She has no points, eight rebounds, four assists, and five turnovers. She is 0-for-10 from the floor, 0-for-8 from behind the arc.

She gave the Huskies some good minutes in the second half of the Jan. 5 loss to the Irish, including a block on a Kayla McBride layup. But with 14:35 left and 6:30 remaining with the game tied, she hit the back rim on almost uncontested 3-points that a shooter like her should make.

Or in a game like that, has to make.

“Caroline knows, ‘If I’m not doing what I need to be doing, if I don’t get our offense moving, if I don’t knock down open shots, there’s no point in me being in the game,’ ” Auriemma said. “Do I want to have Moriah Jefferson in? Not unless it changes the game. I don’t want her out there because the other guys aren’t playing well.”

Some things are not going to change in the next few weeks. Baylor has All-American point guard Odyssey Sims. Notre Dame has All-American point guard Skylar Diggins. But Doty has two national championship rings and has been a part of four NCAA Final Four teams and four Big East tournament title teams.

Now is the time to start making that experience count.