STORRS -- The start was unprecedented for UConn freshman Breanna Stewart. No player in the history of the program scored more points than she did through the first 10 games. She did it from inside. She did it from outside. She often did it with ease.
However, as Stewart's play during her last 10 games has demonstrated, she is still a freshman. She is prone to inconsistency just like other freshmen. And questions about the level of her greatness have been replaced by those regarding her ability to regain her early season form.
"I think somebody like Breanna Stewart, if you allow it to be, is frustrating to coach,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "But, at the same time, she's probably more frustrated at herself than any of us could be because she wants to be able to have an impact when she plays.''
Auriemma said that he is not frustrated by Stewart's roller-coaster season. Confused is the operative word right now as he continues to wonder what happened to the player who was consistently dominant and how they can work to bring that out of her every game.
"Generally speaking, I think her struggles, as they are with any other kid, are mentally you just get yourself in a place where, because you haven't had the kind of success you're used to having, you can't figure out why and then you start questioning yourself,'' Auriemma said.
Stewart averaged 16.9 points on 59.8 percent shooting from the field (38.6 3-pointers) through the first 10 games. She scored at least 20 points in three of the first four games and five times overall during this stretch, including a season-high 27 at Hartford Dec. 22. And she scored 10 points or fewer just once and shot less than 50 percent from the field twice.
However, over the last 10 games, Stewart is averaging 10.7 points on 42.3 percent shooting (21.1 percent from 3-pointers). She has scored 20 points once and has scored 10 points or fewer in six games. She has also shot below 50 percent from the field in seven games, with four having been below 30 percent.
"It's obviously frustrating just because I want to go out and play well every night, but I just have to just go out and play and not worry about it,'' Stewart said. "I think I just need to really just go out right from the start and be aggressive at all times. Sometimes I'll catch myself like not doing anything.''
Stewart, who leads the third-ranked Huskies in rebounding (6.8) and blocks (1.9), is tied for second on the team in scoring (13.8) despite her struggles. She is still shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from 3-point range.
Entering today's meeting with DePaul at Gampel Pavilion (3:30 p.m.; SNY), though, she is averaging 7.5 points (4-of-18 FG; 0-of-4 3-pointers) over the last two games. The combined 15 points represent her second lowest two-game total of the season.
Stewart scored nine at Stanford Dec. 29 and a season-low four at Oregon Dec. 31.
"I have confidence in myself,'' Stewart said. "I know that I can provide a spark off the bench. I just need to go out and do it.''
There is no doubt among the Huskies that the player who was such a dominant presence throughout the first 10 games can resurface. Until then, the waiting game continues.
"I definitely think the way she played in the beginning is who she is and who she will be,'' Dolson said. ``I think the last few games are just something to take with a grain of salt and get through them. She has to see what she did or what she hasn't done and learn from it and just get better.''
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