BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s youngest players have the Huskies back in a familiar spot.
Freshmen Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 35 points as UConn (32-4) advanced to their eighth straight regional final with a 76-50 blowout over Maryland on Saturday.
I think we were 16 for 28 from the floor, our freshmen, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. One turnover between the three of them. I thought they were the key to the game today for sure.
Stewart and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each had 17 points to lead the Huskies. Stewart also had eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Jefferson made several key defensive stops and her two fast-break layups capped a 9-0 run to start the second half, giving UConn a 44-26 lead and control of the game.
We got in a nice offensive flow, she said. Once the transition game came, then the offensive flow was right there.
Her layup midway through the half stretched the lead to 60-38. She finished with 10 points and Tuck had eight as the Huskies bench outscored Maryland’s 25-0.
They didn’t play like freshmen at all, center Stefanie Dolson said. They came out confident and ready to play. They knew what they needed to do for our team and what they can do.
Two-time ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas, who had scored 29 and 28 points in the team’s first two tournament games, was held to 13 for Maryland, which finished its season at 26-8. Tianna Hawkins and Chloe Pavlech each had 11 points for the Terps.
Maryland trailed 35-26 at the half and went scoreless for the first 3 minutes after intermission, allowing UConn to blow the game open.
I thought we’d come out of the locker room with a lot more energy, Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. They came with a knockout punch in the second half.
UConn will play Kentucky on Monday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.
KENTUCKY 69, DELAWARE 62: In Bridgeport, Conn., Jennifer O’Neill scored 19 points and A’dia Mathies added 16 to help Wildcats advance.
It’s the second straight season that Kentucky (30-5) has advanced to the regional final. The Wildcats, who already have a school record for victories, lost to UConn last season by 15 points.
Elena Delle Donne had 33 points for Delaware (32-4) and finished her career as the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points. She passed former stars Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw and Maya Moore on Saturday. She finished well short of Jackie Stiles’ all-time scoring mark of 3,393 set at Southwest Missouri State from 1998-2001.