ATLANTA, Ga. - A trio of Huskies have been identified as national semifinalists for the 2014 Women's Naismith Trophy, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Thursday. Seniors Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) and Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) along with sophomore standout Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) were three of ten players to be named semifinalists. UConn leads all schools with three players in the running and the American Athletic Conference leads all leagues with four representatives including Louisville's Shoni Schimmel. Notre Dame is the only other institution to have multiple players selected in Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride.
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 top 10 semifinalists down to four finalists, which will be announced on March 21. The Naismith Award winner will be announced on April 7.
Stefanie Dolson has been excellent for the Huskies this season. The senior forward boasts the third-highest points per game average on the team with 12.9 and leads the squad with 9.1 rebounds per contest. Her 69 total blocks are a season-best for the senior and have helped the team tie the program single-season record with 250 rejections on the year. Dolson, a 2012-13 State Farm/WBCA All-America selection, is also a finalist for the Senior Class Award. Fans can vote for Dolson HERE!
Also posting career numbers in her senior year is Bria Hartley. The North Babylon, N.Y. native is averaging 16.6 points per game and 4.2 assists per game, both of which rank second-highest among Huskies. She has set career-highs in points and assists this season, tallying 30 points against Rutgers and dishing out 11 assists at Temple on Jan. 28 that represented her first-ever double-double at UConn. Until this season, Hartley had never posted back-to-back 20 point games in her career at Connecticut, but the senior has done so in three consecutive contests on two separate occasions this year. Perhaps at no time this season has she been more consistently dominant than in her last 13 games, across which she has averaged 20.4 points, 3.7 assists and shot an impressive 53.6 percent from the floor.
Breanna Stewart's numbers speak for themselves, as the sophomore leads Connecticut and ranks second in the conference with 19.4 points per game while bringing down an average 6.0 rebounds per contest. The Syracuse, N.Y. native has logged seven double-doubles on the season and hit 20-plus points in 14 games, only missing double-digits in two games this season. In addition to offensive production, Stewart owns the highest number of blocked shots on the season with 82 rejections. On Feb. 16, Stewart recorded UConn's first basket against USF to earn her 1,000th career point, becoming the second-fastest Husky to reach the milestone. She is just the fifth Husky to achieve the honor as a sophomore.
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.
For more information, visit: www.naismithawards.com