Big three lead UConn past Duquesne 97-51 in NCAA round two
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn’s “Big Three” say they could not have scripted a better final home game for each other.
Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson each added 20 in their Gampel Pavilion finale, leading UConn to a 97-51 victory over Duquesne on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Stewart also grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked five shots. Tuck added nine rebounds and both she and Jefferson had seven assists as the Huskies (34-0) moved into the regional semifinals for the 23rd consecutive year.
“Today was just a magnificent performance by the three of them,” said coach Geno Auriemma. “It was really something to see, just the way they feed off each other, the way they instill confidence in their teammates.”
Deva’Nyar Workman scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and April Robinson added 16 points for Duquesne (28-6), which was playing in its first NCAA Tournament.
“I’m actually glad we went out to the number-one team in the country than to anybody else,” said Workman. “This is the best way to go out, for me.”
The Huskies extended their winning streak to 71 games, making it the second longest in team and Division I women’s history. They own the top three streaks on that list and surpassed the 70-game streak they set between November 2001 and November 2003.
UConn led just 20-17 early in the second quarter before going on a 19-2 run grab control of the game.
UConn took the momentum early in the second quarter when Stewart had three blocks on a single possession, forcing one of two consecutive shot-clock violations.
“It was a huge momentum shift for our team,” Stewart said. “Everyone was excited, the fans got involved, but also they had a shot-clock violation so that was a little defeating for them.”
With those blocks, she became the first player in Division I women’s history with at least 400 blocked shots (402) and 400 assists (410).
The Huskies dominated the game down low, outrebounding Duquesne 51-31 and outscoring them 50-18 in the paint.
Duquesne coach Dan Burt wanted his team to weather the first five minutes, and they trailed just 13-9 midway through the first quarter, part of an 8-0 run that saw the Dukes take a 14-13 lead. But they trailed 20-14 after the first quarter.
The Huskies held Duquesne to just eight baskets on 34 attempts in the first half (24 percent) and led 42-21 after 20 minutes.
Burt paraphrased Mike Tyson, saying everyone has a plan against UConn until they get punched in the face.
“That second quarter, we got punched in the face,” he said. “But, instead of losing what the plan was, I think we still battled.”
The Dukes shot just 29 percent for the game.
A layup by Jefferson gave the Huskies their first 30 point lead at 62-31 and UConn scored 11 of the quarters final 13 points to take a 69-33 lead.
Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson left the game together midway through the fourth quarter with the Huskies leading 79-40.
Stewart and Jefferson are seniors. Tuck, who came in during the same class, is considering leaving for the WNBA despite having another year of eligibility because of a knee injury that cost her most of her sophomore season.
She said it was a much better night for the trio than their senior night, when they opened 5 of 24 from the field after being honored before the game. They trailed in that one after a quarter before beating Tulane by 40 points.
“It was a little different tonight because we knew this could be the last game of our season,” she said. “We don’t want to play bad when that happens. We don’t want to be upset.”
The Huskies have won 117 of their last 118 games and 108 in a row against unranked teams.
Duquesne: The Dukes were 9 of 30 from 3-point range against the Huskies. Duquesne has four players with 30 or more 3-pointers this season. ... Duquesne seniors Robinson, Workman and Emilie Gronas finish their careers with 95 wins, the most in program history.
UConn: The victory was UConn coach Auriemma’s 105th in an NCAA tournament. He needs just seven more to catch former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt, who has the most with 112. ... The Huskies are now 38-2 in NCAA Tournament games at Gampel Pavilion and 51-4 in games played in Connecticut. The regional semifinals and finals will be played in Bridgeport, where UConn is 9-1.
Duquesne: Season’s Over.
UConn: will play fifth-seed Mississippi State on Saturday at the Bridgeport regional semifinals.