UConn’s Stewart hopes fun just beginning

By Carl Adamec

HARTFORD, Conn. — Breanna Stewart’s freshman season with the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team hasn’t been all fun and games.

With 10 games to go in the regular season, she wants to make sure she gets the fun part back.

Stewart had 14 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench Tuesday night as the third-ranked Huskies walloped Villanova 76-43 in Big East action before 10,324 at the XL Center.

“I’ve been trying to get back into a rhythm and into a flow,” Stewart said. “Just going out there and playing and having a good time is something I really enjoy doing.”

The last month has had more than its share of ups and downs for the 6-foot-4 forward from Syracuse, N.Y.

She struggled on the Huskies’ west coast trip to Stanford and Oregon. Then against Notre Dame on Jan. 5, she was just 5-for-17 from the floor in a one-point loss to the Irish. After getting a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds against Georgetown on Jan. 9, she sprained her left ankle in practice and missed games against Marquette and Louisville.

But in the four games since she’s returned, Stewart is averaging 14.3 points in just 21.8 minutes.

“I don’t know if it went away,” Stewart said. “A lot of times I just over-think things. I need to get back to just playing the game. I don’t think it was anything in particular that happened. I just wanted to have fun.”

The reigning Big East Freshman of the Week enjoyed Tuesday night even though she was warned that Villanova can be tough to play against. But the Huskies built a 30-point lead in the first half and were never threatened.

“It turned out all right,” Stewart said with a smile. “It was interesting because not a lot of teams play four-out and five-out like that. But I had seen Villanova play before because we would practice there with the Belles (her AAU team in Philadelphia) so I was familiar with them. But you do have to focus against them.”

Having fun also helps.