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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

UConn's Stewart: Teammate deserved MOP award

When Breanna Stewart stepped onto the stage not long after helping her UConn team win its third straight national title, she couldn't wait until that moment when classmate and good friend stepped forward to receive the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award that Stewart won as a freshman and a sophomore.

However. that moment never came. The UConn players aren't really ones to obsess over individual awards. When Morgan Tuck was bypassed for All-American team, her response was an indifferent shrug. Still, in Stewart's eyes Jefferson was much more deserving than she was for this special accolade.

Always composed in her dealings with the media and public, her eyes began to fill with tears when she said that Jefferson was the more deserving recipient and that she would be sharing the honor with her.

"I thought that Moriah should have gotten the MOP," Stewart said. "I thought the way she played was phenomenal these past two games. I think that people wanted to give it to me just because it was my opportunity to win three in a row."

Morgan Tuck, part of the same recruiting class that included Stewart and Jefferson, has been close friends with Stewart since both were 14 and even she was surprised at Stewart's release of emotions.
"I was surprised because she wasn't a very emotional person but I think she got emotional because this year was a struggle, a lot of people aren't going to think that looking at the scores but we know as a team how hard it was," Tuck said. That is why I think she got emotional because that was as hard as we had to work."

Stewart expected the tears to flow up on the stage about as much as she thought she would win the MOP award.

"I was not expecting it but what can I say, I was happy for my team and sometimes the emotions get the best of you," Stewart said. "I knew they were going to give me the MOP because I am the first female to win three in a row which makes sense but I thought it could have gone to any one of my teammates and Moriah especially just the way she really controlled the game offensive and defensively. I didn't know if they would actually give it to her but I told her we could share it."

Jefferson received the Lieberman Award this season as the nation's top point guard, was named to the WBCA All-American team and was a second team Associated Press All-American. None of those honors meant more to her than Stewart's tribute to her.

"I knew what type of person she is but you could see the emotions in her," Jefferson said. "For her to come out on stage and say that, it means so much to me."


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