The UConn Huskies fended off a solid start from the Texas Longhorns to claim an 86-65 victory in the Bridgeport Regional final, clinching their ninth consecutive Final Four appearance. It is the 17th Final Four in program history.
Morgan Tuck got things going early for the Huskies—with seven points in the first five minutes—but had to sit in the second quarter after committing her second foul.
Luckily, this squad is not wanting for options. Breanna Stewart picked up the slack with some help from Kia Nurse and Naphseesa Collier off the bench. Nurse finished with 11 points while Collier had nine. Katie Lou Samuelson finished with nine points and six rebounds.
The first quarter ended with the Huskies ahead by just five points, as the Longhorns did an admirable job of fighting early on. UConn started to pull away in the final minutes of the second quarter to take a 46-31 lead into halftime.
Everyone got into the act in the second half, but it was none other than Stewie who led the charge. She finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. She also passed Britney Griner for career NCAA Tournament points.
Morgan Tuck led the Huskies with 22 points while also dishing out six assists and grabbing three boards. I'd like to say she was motivated by not being named first-team All-American earlier today but she's been excellent all year. Tuck made the all-regional team along with Jefferson while Stewart was named Most Outstanding Player.
Moriah Jefferson finished one assist away from a double-double of her own, with 11 points and nine assists. One more assist would have also tied her with Diana Taurasi for the school record.
Jefferson put a bit of a scare into Husky fans late in the game, favoring her ankle after taking a fall, but got up and got back on defense. That girl is all heart. The entire team is, really. You can see it with the intensity they show from the moment the players hit the floor for warm-ups all the way until the final buzzer.
Unlike the overwhelmingly dominant performances of the first three rounds, this game looked at least somewhat like the opponent belonged on the court with UConn. Ultimately, the Huskies had way too many weapons. If you focus on Stewart it leaves Samuelson open on the perimeter. If you try to double Tuck with the ball down low she has the vision to find an open teammate. It's a murderers row of hard-working scorers and playmakers.
UConn's next game will be on Sunday in Indianapolis for the Final Four, where it will take on Oregon State in first game at 6 p.m.
Photo gallery credits: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog