STORRS, Conn. – Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Kaleena Mosquda-Lewis, and Breanna Stewart represented UConn on the Naismith Midseason Top-30 List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Wednesday afternoon. All four Husky names have also appeared on the Wooden Award Top-20 list announced in January.
The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is awarded annually to the men’s and women’s college basketball players of the year. The voting academy bases its criteria on player performance throughout the season. The Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will narrow the 50 pre-season watch list down to a midseason team comprised of 30 candidates, which will be announced in February. From there, four finalists will be selected to the final ballot in March. The Naismith Award winner will be announced on April 7, 2014.
The ACC leads all conferences with 10 players hailing from seven different teams. Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel joins the four Huskies as representatives of the American Athletic Conference, which boasts the second-most players.
Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) has started all 25 games in her senior campaign, averaging 12.6 point per game and hauls in a team-leading 9.3 rebounds per contest. Dolson has been dominant on the defensive end this season, rejecting a single-season career-best 61 shots this year. She joins Breanna Stewart and Kiah Stokes as the first trio of UConn teammates to surpass 60 blocked shots in the same season. Her efforts have played a large part in helping the Huskies to some of the top statistics in the nation. UConn leads the nation in scoring defense (48.1ppg), blocked shots (216 total, 8.6 per game), and assistant to turnover ratio (1.96). Earlier today Stefanie Dolson was named among the top-20 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award honoring student-athlete achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. Fan voting contributes to 1/3 of the final decision, so be sure to log onto the Senior CLASS Award website and cast your vote.
Senior Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) has produced some of the best numbers of her career for the Huskies this season. She averages 15.7 points per game on the season and boasts the second-highest assists total on the team (113). In her last nine games Hartley has been nothing short of stellar. The senior has averaged 19.7 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field in that span. Hartley posted three consecutive 20-pluis point games for the first time in her career, recording a career-high 30 against then-No. 23 Rutgers and setting a personal-best with 11 assists at Temple on Jan. 11. In January the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recognized Hartley as one of the top point guards in the country by placing her on the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List. On Jan. 21 Hartley’s efforts in a 2-0 week against then-No. 7 Baylor and Rutgers earned her Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week honors.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) returned from injury with a bang against then-No. 2 Duke in December, rattling off a career-high seven 3-pointers in the win. Working back into a rhythm, the reigning NCAA 3-point shooting champion has averaged 15.5 points in her last six games, going 43.5 percent from behind the arc in that time. The forward notched her first double-double of the season last Tuesday against SMU, also matching her career-high with seven assists.
Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y) has been busy since the Top-50 list was announced. The sophomore has earned three American Athletic Conference Player of the week nods and a USBWA National Player of the Week selection the day before Christmas. In January USA Basketball announced that Stewart was the recipient of the organization’s 2013 Female Athlete of the Year Award, which marks the second time in three years the Syracuse, N.Y. native has earned the distinction. Breanna Stewart leads the Huskies and ranks second in the conference in scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game. Stewart set a career-high with 37 points against Temple on Jan. 28, which represents the eighth-best individual performance in program history. The sophomore has six double-double so far this season and 12 20-plus point games. Opponents have only kept her to single digits in two of the Huskies’ 25 contests this season.
In the history of the Naismith Trophy, five Huskies have earned the award in seven different seasons. Rebecca Lobo first took home the honors for Connecticut in the 1995 season after winning the program’s first National Championship. In 2002, the Naismith Award was bestowed on Sue Bird after UConn’s first of three consecutive National Titles. Diana Taurasi followed on Bird’s heels as a back-to-back recipient in 2003 and 2004. Most recently, Tina Charles earned the honors in 2010, in between Maya Moore’s two seasons as the Naismith Award winner in 2009 and 2011.