Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

UConn's Big Three win a performance for the ages

Geno Auriemma probably summed up Monday night's events at Gampel Pavilion when classmates Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 61 points, 25 rebounds, 16 assists and six blocked shots in a 97-51 win over Duquesne.

"It is going to be a long time before we see something like this again," Auriemma said.

The Hall of Fame coach was speaking in general terms about what the trio has managed to accomplish since their arrival but his words also helped capture the essence of the performance put forth by UConn's "Big Three."

Stewart had 21 points, a career-high tying 16 rebounds and five blocked shots (three in one possession). Jefferson had 20 points (on just 10 shots), seven assists, three steals and no turnovers while Tuck chipped in with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Fittingly they all came out of the game together with 5:49 left to play to a rousing ovation.

"It was like the perfect ending to playing here at Gampel for all three of us to have the games that we had, it was amazing," Jefferson said. "You can't even think about getting emotional and crying with the way that we played, we were all really excited."

During one stretch the trio had 10 straight baskets for the Huskies and had two other stretches when they accounted for each of the five baskets scored by the Huskies as UConn pulled away from the pesky Dukes.
"It was just fun, we were just excited for each other and excited for our team," Tuck said. "It was by far the mot fun we had playing here before so it was nice that our last time playing together here was a great memory."
UConn posted its 71st win, moving into sole possession of second place on the NCAA Division I women's list  and set up a regional semifinal matchup with Mississippi State on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Webster Bank Arena.

"It was unbelievable," Stewart said. "I think for all three of us to play as well as we did, finish the game together essentially was huge. To receive a standing ovation, there is nothing better than that."
Some notes from the game.

Stewart and Jefferson are now the  highest scoring UConn tandem in not only NCAA tournament history but in postseason history as well. They now have 908 career postseason points moving by the previous record of 897 set by Kara Wolters and Carla Berube from 1993-96 and the 587 points in the NCAA tournament tops the mark of 566 set by Diana Taurasi and Jessica Moore from 2001-04.

Stewart posted her 132nd career double-digit scoring game tying her with Minnesota's Rachel Banham (whose career ended with a loss in the WNIT on Sunday) for the fourth highest total in NCAA Division I history. She could still surpass former Oklahoma star Courtney Paris' total of 134 but the record 149 set by Maya Moore and 146 by Brittney Griner is out of reach even for Stewart.

Stewart has now surpassed the 400 mark in both career assists and blocked shots. Blocked shot totals have only been official since 1988 and I went back a little further to when Cheryl Miller and Cindy Brown played and don't have another player with 400 assists and 400 blocked shots.

Jefferson is now sixth on the NCAA tournament list with 46 career steals and is second in NCAA tournament history with a 51.9 3-point percentage trailing only Jennifer Azzi's absurd total of 55.8. Officially Jefferson won't qualify since a player needs to attempt 1.5 3-pointers per game and she is currently at 1.4 per contest.

There are certainly more statistic notes for the two of them but I'll save that for a later day.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is going to be a long time before we see something like this again," Auriemma said.

The drop off in talent, assist/turnover ratio, defense, offense, and won-lost record next season is going to be shocking to some UConn fans.

Auriemma jokes in public about teams calling him, wanting to play UConn because Stewart, Jefferson, and Tuck will be in the WNBA.

But he knows what present talent level is returning to UConn next season and what new talent is arriving.

Auriemma would not be joking like that, if any of the next season's UConn players were of the caliber of Miller, Holdsclaw, Taurasi, Parker, Maya, Griner, or Stewart.

I feel Blessed to have witnessed this amazing trio of Stewart, Jefferson, and Tuck. Talented players who are not selfish and who do not flash "hey look at me" signs on the court.

Hoping that the pressure does not get to UConn and that they can pull off a 4-peat.

7:40 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim -

Do you know if All American voting is done before or after the NCAA tournament? What is your take on last season and this season All American voting?

Auriemma has been pushing for Tuck to be All American in each of the last 2 seasons. For the sake of conversation, let us assume there was no rule that says teams can only nominate 3 players.

Do you think Tuck had enough statistics last season or this season to be an All American? Do you know if voters look at the quality of teammates when voting for All American?

Last season, Tuck benefitted from playing with the overwhelming NPOY in Stewart, the Best PG in Jefferson, and the NCAA all time leader in made 3 point shots in KML. This season, Tuck has beneffited from playing with the overwhelming NPOY in Stewart and the Best PG in Jefferson.

Tuck just doest not appear to me to be able to take over a game individually, like Stewart and Jefferson can. I think her game is more dependent upon her 4 teammates, than it is for Stewart and Jefferson.

This season, Tuck did not play in 5 of UConn's 34 games so far. Auriemma commented something to the effect that Tuck lets him know whether she can play or not.

Tuck had that stretch of several games in the weak AAC regular season, after the South Carolina game, where her shooting was mysteriously way off. This has led to her in-conference scoring average to be less than her non-conference average.

Tuck's scoring average is slightly down from last season, 14.4 to 12.8. Her rebounding average is slightly up from 5.5 to 5.9. Her 3 point shooting percentage is almost identical, 0.292 last season and 0.286 this season.

How often do players get named AA if they do not lead their team in any individual statistic? This season there are a lot of talented players and some deserving players will get left off.

I think Tuck is 1 of the top 25 players in all of WCBB, but just do not see the justification for being considered 1 of the top 10. I know what Auriemma thinks. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

8:50 AM 

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