UConn rolls to AAC title
Finally, with 2:36 left to play when the trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck headed to the sidelines together to a thunderous ovation, it was time to turn the attention to celebrating the second of the three championships the Huskies began the season in pursuit of.
"It is pretty cool to see what us three have done and to be able to do it together, obviously Coach (Geno Auriemma) did it in a way that we could come out together and that was really special," Tuck said.
Stewart was once again the headliner with 22 points, three assists and seven blocked shots (moving her within one of Rebecca Lobo's UConn career record of 396). Jefferson contributed with 12 points and four assists but more importantly played a key role in holding Courtney Williams to two first-half points. Tuck battled hard inside for offensive rebounds and loose balls in the early going when the Huskies were struggling to get going offensively.
UConn improved to 145-5 since the arrival of the trio which ranks sixth place in NCAA Division I women's basketball history. If the Huskies win the national title, they will not only become the first class to win four straight NCAA women's Division I titles but the 151 wins would break the NCAA record of 150 set when Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon were at UConn.
It wasn't all about the veterans stepping up, however.
The impact of Samuelson's eight quick points or the energy provided by Gabby Williams off the bench as well as Kia Nurse's defense turned what could have been a competitive title game into another UConn runaway.
Samuelson's 13 points gave her 46 in the three tournament games which is tied for the sixth most for a UConn freshman in conference tournament play.
"It took me a while to get involved," Samuelson said. "I think that led to me standing and that is why my shots weren't going down. I was just standing on one end, when I went back in there I tried to move a little bit more and I think that really helped. It was good for me personally and for my team. I think we got excited (during the second quarter run) because we came off two good defensive stops and I think everything was kind of showing so we wanted to put them away."
For those wondering, here are the top UConn freshman conference tournament scoring leaders
Stefanie Dolson (2011) 60
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2012) 58
Diana Taurasi (2001) 53
Svetlana Abrosimova (1998) 49
Kara Wolters (1994) 46
Katie Lou Samuelson (2016) 46
Now UConn waits until Monday's ESPN/NCAA Selection Show to see who stands in the way of the Huskies' run for an unprecedented fourth straight national title. UConn will host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, either on Mar. 18 and 20 or Mar. 19 and 21 before moving to Bridgeport for the regionals on Mar. 26 and 28.