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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck power UConn to Maggie Dixon Classic win

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis couldn't find any room to operate, Kia Nurse was not going to score in double figures for the first time since being inserted into the starting lineup and the bench was not a factor offensively yet the UConn women's basketball team was able to leave Madison Square Garden with a 16-point win over a St. John's team which figures to compete for the Big East title.

The Huskies' key to success? Look no further than a trio of players who came into the program the same year.

Morgan Tuck, a redshirt sophomore, had 17 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, junior Moriah Jefferson had 14 of her 16 points in the first 20 minutes and junior Breanna Stewart had a typically rock solid effort with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.

"It always helps to know the people you are playing with and we are all on the same page," said Tuck, who added six rebounds, four assists and three steals. "We know what we need to do and we know we need to be the ones to step up and we kind of push the team if we are not playing well. We did that pretty well in the second half."
After Stewart opened the second-half scoring with a basket, Tuck had the rest of the Huskies' points during an 13-2 run to push a seven-point halftime lead into a 51-33 advantage.
The trio combined for 57 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists as the Huskies won their 11th game in a row.
"It is somewhat reminiscent of Asjha, Swin, Tamika, Sue group where they help each other be better, they help each other grow, they push each other, they challenge each other," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Stewie and Tuck, they have a really good relationship on the court, they have a great relationship off the court too. I think playing with other great players, I don't think you can become a great player without that because if you get open somebody can't get you the ball."
The three classmates (OK, Tuck is officially a sophomore basketball wise but is in the same academic class as Jefferson and Stewart) have been putting their stamp on the program since arriving but they are taking their play to a different level in the last few weeks.

"I really do think it translates," Stewart said. "We have played together since we were 13/14 and that is a long time. We have such a good chemistry with each other and playing in Morgan in the post, I kind of know what she is going to do. She is going to cut and I am going to give it to her and we kind of work around each other."

"It definitely helps us because we are able to do so many things and we are not just stuck on the block, we need to handle the ball, we are run and drive with each other, I can set the screen for Morgan, Morgan can set the screen for me."

Stewart became the third UConn player to score 1,500 points in fewer than 90 games. Maya Moore set the standard by accomplishing the feat in 81 games breaking the mark of 87 previously set by Kerry Bascom. It took Stewart 89 games to get there, one ahead of Rebecca Lobo.

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