INDIANAPOLIS —When Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck all convened in Storrs in 2012, tonight’s historic victory was just a distant possibility. Stewart declared that she wanted to win four championships, but it would have been tough to imagine that everything could go right in four straight NCAA Tournaments.
With a 82-51 win over Syracuse in the National Championship game, that possibility became a reality for the Syracuse native and her fellow legendary recruits. Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck are the first players to win four straight National Championship games in NCAA history.
“It was the perfect ending,” Stewart said. “We had a goal coming in as freshmen, and now as seniors we did that. We did what we wanted to do. And it was a lot of fun.”
In every National Championship game Stewart has played big – she is the only player to ever earn the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award four times. Tonight was no different, as Stewart scored 24 points, had 10 rebounds and six assists. This was the 42nd double-double in Stewart’s career.
She also finished as UConn’s all-time leader in career blocks with 414.
Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson have combined to win an NCAA record 151 games over the course of their four-year careers. This victory puts them ahead of UConn’s 2011 senior class of Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon that won 150 games together.
“They’ve created an amount of excitement that the game has not seen in a long, long time, if ever,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think it’s a blueprint for kids coming after them that if you want to know how to do it, they showed everybody how to do it. And they did it the right way. And they did it together and they did it with people that they love. And I’m really, really proud of them.”
Jefferson perhaps had the best in-game moment when she left the crowd speechless at the end of the first quarter. A deep three-pointer from Syracuse’s Brianna Butler left the Syracuse bench enthusiastically celebrating a shot that cut the deficit to 12 as time was winding down in the quarter.
Jefferson responded with a tough fade away three-pointer that beat the buzzer. That gave UConn a 28-13 lead heading into the break and put a dagger into any hopes Syracuse had of creating a momentum shift.
Jefferson finished with 13 points and five assists in the title game.
Jefferson grew into the stabilizing force at point guard over her career. She will finish number one on UConn’s all-time assist list with 659 career assists. She is also ranked second on UConn’s all-time steals list with 353 steals.
Tuck, who was unable to play in the National Championship game her true sophomore year due to injury also had a standout game. Tuck scored 19 points, along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Jefferson, Tuck and Stewart were all named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
Leading 80-51 with 1:46 left in the game, the trio checked out of the game for the final time together and shared one last embrace as UConn teammates.
“It was definitely a special moment, something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” Jefferson said. “Four in a row is amazing. I’m just happy that I did it with these two.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.