Maya Moore was a sophomore, and already a first-team All-American, when she scored her 1,000th point at UConn on Jan. 17, 2009 against Syracuse in just her 55th game, a program record.
How she did it only further embellished her legend.
At the XL Center, against an opponent in a very bad mood, in the midst of a physical game that featured the loss of Caroline Doty to another knee injury, Moore prevailed, draining a program record 10 three-pointers to score 40 points and lead the Huskies to a 107-53 win.
As coincidence would have it, this current UConn team, led by the player some believe may someday approach Moore’s career scoring mark (3,036), will also be at the XL Center Wednesday two points short of 1,000.
Sophomore Breanna Stewart’s shot at becoming the second-fastest player to reach 1,000 points comes in the 63rd game of her career against Central Florida. Moore did it in her 55th game.
Advantageously for the home crowd, Stewart was held to 15 points in Sunday’s workmanlike 63-38 win at South Florida. One more basket and the milestone would have already been in the books.
“Individual accomplishments are always great,” Stewart said. “But it’s something you look back on and right now we’re in the homestretch of the regular season. I think the team is more focused on making sure we go into the conference and NCAA Tournament on a really strong run.”
But there’s more history on the card. Senior Bria Hartley needs three rebounds to become just the third player in program history with at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.
The others are Moore and Diana Taurasi, the Ruth and Gehrig of UConn women’s basketball history.
“It’s pretty cool,” Hartley said. “When you come to UConn you want to make an impact. But I can’t say it was something I had in mind when I came to play here, even though we all want to be able to leave our mark on the program.
“And as for Stewie, I know she doesn’t want to give herself any kudos, but to be able to score your 1,000th point as a sophomore is great. Not many people do it. And it just shows you how great of a player she is now and how much better she will be.”
Auriemma’s respect for Hartley, an All-American as a sophomore who is having a huge bounce-back year, is enormous.
“I don’t want to say I am surprised that this has happened because then it wouldn’t be giving Bria enough credit,” Auriemma said. “But, when you recruit players like Stewie and Maya Moore, you know that at the end of their careers a lot of numbers will be attached to them. You know it; that have the qualities all the great players have.
“When you recruit players like Bria Hartley, you don’t know if she will be a really good player or if she will become a great player. But when we threw her out there as a freshman, and she did what she did, you knew she was different than the average freshman.
“But you still don’t know what’s going to happen. Things take luck; you need to stay healthy, be on good teams with great teammates. A lot has to go right to do what she’s done. … She’s going to go down as one of the great players to play here.”
South Florida coach Jose Fernandez serves on the WBCA All-America selection committee. And what he’s seen of Stewart and Hartley, Stefanie Dolson and Moriah Jefferson, too, has him convinced they are among the nation’s premier players.
“Bria’s having a great year,” Fernandez said. “Jefferson is one of the most improved players in the entire country. He’s got four players in the top 30 in the nation. All four of them will in discussion in the room where the All-America team will be picked.”