Looking at the stats alone, nothing dramatic stands out from Molly Bent’s performance against USF. She didn’t set a career high in points. Or assists. Or rebounds. She actually didn’t set any career highs. Her 21 minutes tied the most of her career. But when looking at the big picture, it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t Bent’s best game in a Husky uniform.
She first came in along with the rest of the bench with 5:24 remaining in the first quarter after head coach Geno Auriemma was displeased with the starting five’s play. But she came out with the reserves at the start of the second quarter when the starters went back in.
USF had just eight players dressed, so their goal was to slow the game down as much as possible. Auriemma wanted to disrupt that, so he put Bent back in the game.
“The object was to speed up the game. We wanted to get the game going fast,” Auriemma said. “I don’t know what Molly puts in her cereal every morning but she’s always revved up a lot so I figured [I would] put her in there and run around and stir things up a little bit and she kind of did.”
Bent forced a steal in the final minute of the half that led to two points for Napheesa Collier. She then started the second half and grabbed an offensive rebound on the first possession that led to a shot for Megan Walker. The Massachusetts native finished with six points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds. For a team that lacked a spark at the start of the game, Bent provided one off the bench.
“I think she played awesome, she came in and stepped up big for us,” Katie Lou Samuelson said. “If she can continue to contribute like that she’s really going to helpful because she’s been that way in practice the last few days and when you feel comfortable with her on the court, it’s really good for us to build that trust that she can do that for us.”
While Bent has struggled on the court at times during her career, she’s never been accused of not working hard. Auriemma was happy to finally see that work pay off in a game.
“When we recruited her, I thought any kid that works really hard, you root for them and you hope they continue to get better and you can find a spot for them,” he said. “Usually in our program, there’s always been a kid like that and we’ve always found a spot for them. I’m hopeful that this could be pretty good for her.”
The key for Bent going forward is to keep playing hard but making sure she stays in control while playing and doesn’t try to do too much.
“I can control how hard I work so doing that kind of calms me down but it can also be my downfall,” Bent said. “I’m a little crazy and coach calls me out on it all the time. Seeing what was happening during the game, I knew that I wanted to get in there and work hard.”
All season, Auriemma has said how the UConn Huskies don’t need scoring off the bench. They just need someone to come in and give them good minutes and that’s exactly what Bent did. It’s only one game, so it’s still premature to expect her to contribute consistently, but it was a very positive step in the right direction for the junior.