Women's Basketball: First-quarter run propels UConn to regional finals

UConn women's basketball forward Morgan Tuck fights for a loose ball during the Huskies' NCAA tournament game against No. 5 Mississippi State at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday, March 26, 2016. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

BRIDGEPORT — Before the clock even struck noon, the No. 1 UConn Huskies already put to bed any chances Mississippi State had to pull off an upset.

The Huskies came out of the gates on fire as a 32-4 first quarter put things out of reach from the very start.

The No. 1 seed UConn Huskies advanced to the regional finals for the 11th consecutive season with a 98-38 victory over No. 5 seed Mississippi State.

Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck continued to elevate their game to the next level in the NCAA tournament.

Stewart finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. She only missed two shots in the entire game, going 8-for-10 from the field and a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line. Stewart registered the 40th double-double of her career.

Tuck scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field, while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists.

“There is really not a lot that you can say when you start the game the way we started it,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “We’ve got some seniors that have played a lot of games and they’ve played in a lot of big games. When they show up and play the way they played today its hard for anybody to play against us.”

Senior guard Moriah Jefferson scored seven points and had four assists, but she also impacted the game on the defensive end. Jefferson had four steals and moved into second place on UConn’s all-time steals list (350 career steals).

The Huskies also tied the NCAA Tournament record for most consecutive tournament game wins. UConn won their 21st straight tournament game, tying the record held by Tennessee. The Huskies also extended their overall winning streak to 72 games.

UConn women's basketball forward Katie Lou Samuelson stands with head coach Geno Auriemma during the Huskies' NCAA tournament game against No. 5 Mississippi State at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday, March 26, 2016. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

After jumping out to an early lead, UConn was able to use their defense to key in on Victoria Vivians, who entered the game as Mississippi State’s leading scorer averaging 17.4 points per game. The Huskies held Vivians to six points on 3-for-15 shooting.

“The game plan is similar to what every single game plan is,” Stewart said. “We want to disrupt them defensively. Victoria Vivians is a great player for them and we wanted to make sure it was really hard for her to get shots and we had to do that with team defense."

The Huskies were also very efficient on the offensive end. UConn shot 63 percent from the field and 18-for-24 from the free throw line. They also took advantage of Mississippi State’s mistakes by scoring 24 points off turnovers.

UConn freshman Katie Lou Samuelson also had an efficient game, finishing with 21 points while shooting 9-for-14 from the field.

Teaira McCowan was the leading scorer for Mississippi State with 10 points.

With another dominant tournament performance from Stewart, Auriemma said he has actually found himself taking the time to admire just how special Stewart is.


Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at spencer.mayfield@uconn.edu. He tweets @SpenceMayfield.