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UConn Women’s Basketball Defeats USF to Claim AAC Tournament Championship

Gabby Williams returned from injury in triumphant fashion to help the Huskies bring home the title.

The UConn women’s basketball team celebrates their 5th straight AAC Championship.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

For the fourth consecutive season, the UConn women’s basketball team met the USF Bulls in the AAC Tournament final and for the fourth time, the Huskies won. With the 70-54, victory, UConn earns its fifth-straight American tournament title and 23rd conference tournament championship overall.

Azura Stevens was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds in three games. Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, and Gabby Williams were named to the All-Tournament team.

Williams returned to the lineup after missing the semifinal game due to a hip injury suffered in the quarterfinal game against Tulane. She made her presence felt early, collecting three steals in the first three minutes. The senior finished with 19 points on 9-11 shooting, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.

Unlike most American Conference opponents, USF played the Huskies tough early on and stayed within striking distance. Near the end of the first quarter, the Bulls got UConn’s lead down to one but a Kia Nurse three-pointer at the buzzer extended the Huskies’ lead to four after 10 minutes.

Geno Auriemma, Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson, Azura Stevens & Crystal Dangerfield postgame video

The Husky offense went cold midway through the second quarter, missing five straight shots and going over two minutes without scoring.

But with help from their defense, UConn found a spark and closed the half on an 8-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Samuelson just before the buzzer. Despite a tremendous effort, the Bulls simply did not have the firepower to keep up with the best team in the nation. The Huskies held a healthy 14-point lead at the halftime break.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

USF came out of the locker room with some fire, scoring four quick points while holding UConn scoreless for the first 2:18 of the third quarter. However, the Huskies quickly extinguished the flame by responding with a 7-0 run that all but put the Bulls away for good.

While UConn held a comfortable lead in the final quarter, it wasn’t wide enough for head coach Geno Auriemma to pull his starters.

Even with a hip injury, Williams stayed in the game and appeared to re-injure her hip after making a turnaround jumper. She went into the locker room and it appeared her night was over but she quickly returned to the bench and re-entered the game.

Azura Stevens put a cap on her phenomenal tournament performance with 13 points on 6-9 shooting with seven rebounds (four offensive) and a trio of thunderous blocks. Samuelson and Napheesa Collier both contributed 12 points while Dangerfield notched eight points, six assists, and three rebounds.

UConn will have over 10 days off to rest up and get healthy before the start of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies are sure to be a top seed and play their first two games at home, but they will have to wait to find out their opponents and bracket until Selection Monday on March 12th.