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In-State Heroes Make All-Star Game Special For Connecticut Crowd

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — As the PA announcer bellowed “Now introducing…Stefanie Dolson!,” the crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena roared, welcoming the Mystics center perhaps more warmly than any other player not on the hometown Sun at the Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game 2015.

Such a welcome may seem odd. Dolson plays for one of the hometown team’s Eastern Conference rivals, and on a court full of All-Stars, MVP’s, and future Hall of Famers, the second-year star taking her first steps in the annual game as a reserve might not appear like the logical choice for the most rousing ovation.

Yet one needs only to look at the college next to Dolson’s name on the roster to understand the fans’ excitement: the University of Connecticut.

“It’s always fun being back here in Connecticut,” Dolson said. “[I’ve] always said they were the greatest fans in women’s basketball because they’re so passionate about it.”

Dolson was a star on the 2013 and 2014 UConn teams that won the NCAA championship, starting every game in both of those seasons, and the local fans certainly showed their appreciation for the charismatic star during her first All-Star appearance.

Dolson was not the only Husky playing on Saturday, however, as three others took the floor. Those four players made UConn the most represented school in this year’s All-Star Game. Tina Charles joined Dolson on the Eastern Conference squad, while nine-time All-Star Sue Bird and reigning league MVP—and 2015 All-Star Game MVP—Maya Moore laced up for the Western Conference team.

“It was a little bit eerie, just to be back, period,” said, who played for the Sun from 2010-2013. “To be still in this locker room, sitting at the same locker, it was a little bit eerie, but it was great, the support was great.”

Overall, the former UConn stars did not disappoint. Dolson notched four points and added three rebounds, a steal, and a block in just 14 minutes; Charles tallied 13 points on 60 percent shooting; and Bird, a last-minute addition to the West’s starting lineup, scored five points and dished three assists.

Yet the true show-stopping performance of the group came from Moore, who stood out not just among UConn players, but among the full slate of superstars. They Lynx wing poured in 30 points—an All-Star game record— despite playing only 20 minutes and also collected six rebounds and five assists.

When ESPN’s Holly Rowe interviewed Moore on the court following the game, she made sure to emphasize Moore’s Connecticut roots, much to the delight of the crowd in attendance.

In return, Moore certainly delighted in the crowd as well.

“It’s really fun to be able to play well in front of a crowd that is going to appreciate it,” she said after the game.

The fans rejoiced in not just the performance of UConn legends, but in the standout games of current Connecticut Sun stars as well. Forward Kelsey Bone and guard Alex Bentley both made their All-Star debuts, and while Bone acquitted herself well with six points and eight boards, Bentley put forth perhaps the game’s best effort behind that of Moore.

Bentley scored an East-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including a team-high five three pointers.

Connecticut fans will not have to wait long to see the UConn All-Stars in action again. Bird’s Storm, Dolson’s Mystics, and Charles’ Liberty will all visit Connecticut during the season’s second half. With the Sun in the midst of a heated playoff race in the East, expect the reception then to be a little less warm.