The final game at Gampel Pavilion for seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson ended the same way that so many others did–with a UConn victory.
No. 1 UConn defeated the Bridgeport region’s No. 9 seed Duquesne 97-51 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the 23rd straight season.
Both Stewart and Jefferson left their mark on a game that was played at an up-tempo pace. In its first NCAA Tournament in program history, Duquesne entered Gampel Pavilion with high hopes of an upset. Instead, they had no answer for the trio of Stewart, Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
“I’ve been saying this pretty much all year that whenever the games get bigger, and the stakes get higher as the season goes along, our three seniors play even better than they normally play,” head coach Geno Auriemma said.
Stewart finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks.
Jefferson scored 20 points and had seven assists. Jefferson’s assists moved her into third place on UConn’s all-time assists list with 634 career assists.
Stewart and Jefferson had a miraculous run in their UConn careers, especially when playing at Gampel. The duo will graduate with a final record of 35-1 at Gampel.
The third member of this historic recruiting class, redshirt junior Morgan Tuck, also had a phenomenal game. Tuck finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Although it is uncertain if Tuck will return to UConn next season for her final year of eligibility, it was the last time that the talented trio will play together at Gampel.
“Today was just a magnificent performance by the three of them,” Auriemma said. “It was really something to see just the way they feed off each other, the way they instill confidence in their teammates. They’ve grown up so much since four years ago when they were freshman. It was a perfect way to end this part of their career.”
The Huskies did a great job defensively against a Duquesne team that likes to let it fly from long range. UConn held Duquesne to just 29 percent from the field making just nine of 30 three-point attempts.
Duquesne entered the game averaging 71.7 points per game, coming off a 97-point performance in an opening round victory over Seton Hall. That offensive fluidity was brought to a halt by a UConn defense that blocked seven shots as a team and forced 14 turnovers.
“We wanted to come out for our last home game in Gampel and really try to give a good show for the fans,” Jefferson said. “Everything was just clicking from start to finish.”
It was fitting that the Huskies would also accomplish another piece of history in front of the Storrs crowd. UConn extended their winning streak to 71 games, which is not the second longest streak in NCAA history.
“To come out and play this well, I think for all three of us to have a huge impact on the game, you couldn’t write it any better for our last home game here,” Stewart said. “It gives us great momentum going into next weekend.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.