HARTFORD, Conn. — Breanna Stewart returned to the court nine months after rupturing her right Achilles tendon and the US women’s national team beat No. 4 UConn, 79-64, on Monday night in an exhibition game.
The teams honored NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday, and the Huskies hung a jersey for Gianna on their bench at the XL Center.
The two had become friends with coach Geno Auriemma and many of the former UConn players, including Stewart, who said Bryant was one of the first people to reach out to her when she got hurt in Europe in April.
Stewart, who scored 3 points in 17 minutes, honored the pair along with other victims of the crash by writing their names on her shoes.
UConn had flowers on its bench in front of a No. 2 jersey for Gianna, who Kobe had said was “hellbent” on attending the school. The coaching staffs wore gold and purple ribbons.
The teams huddled together at midcour t before the tip for a 24-second moment of silence. After the tip, the US took an 8-second backcourt violation and then the Huskies let the 24-second shot clock expire. Those were Kobe Bryant’s numbers in the pros.
Stewart was one of five former Huskies on the US roster. She was joined by Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Katie Lou Samuelson, and Diana Taurasi. The Phoenix Mercury star didn’t play because of back soreness.