UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)Different conference, same result for UConn.
After winning seven straight titles in the American Athletic Conference, the top-ranked Huskies routed Marquette 73-39 on Monday night in their return to the Big East Tournament championship game.
Paige Bueckers scored 23 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player as UConn (24-1) wrapped up its 19th Big East Tournament title. She hit 10 of 15 shots, grabbed six rebounds and had four assists.
Christyn Williams added 16 points as UConn won its 160th straight game in conference play.
Connecticut held Marquette to 22% shooting and scored 28 points off of 21 Golden Eagle turnovers.
”We have a sense of urgency and it starts on the defensive end,” Williams said. ”I think that’s what won the game for us tonight was our defense.”
The Huskies rushed to center court and jumped around after the final horn, then held up their eighth straight league trophy as staff shot off confetti canons in the mostly empty arena. The team, which includes seven freshmen who have never experienced a title before, then got down on the floor and made confetti angels.
”I have never been more proud of any team to be honest with you, with all these young kids and how much they’ve grown up over four or five months,” coach Geno Auriemma said. ”It’s really been refreshing to watch.”
Camryn Taylor had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Marquette (19-6), which lost in the conference final for the fourth straight season after winning the title in 2017. Selena Lott, who came into the game averaging just over 15 points, was held to two points on five shots and was hounded by Williams all game.
UConn never trailed during the tournament.
Evina Westbrook hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to open the scoring, part of a 9-0 run. Another 3-pointer from the Tennessee transfer capped a 15-2 run, and the Huskies led 29-10 after 10 minutes.
”When you get down that big to UConn in the first quarter, it’s uphill, really uphill, the rest of the way,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said.
Marquette slowed the pace in the second quarter and outscored UConn 13-12, but the Huskies went into halftime up 41-23.
The Golden Eagles cut the lead to 16 early in the third quarter, but Nika Muhl (11 points) followed a 3-pointer with a steal and a basket to push the lead back to 21.
The Huskies led 56-30 after three quarters.
They will enter the NCAA Tournament on a 14-game winning streak after their lone loss to Arkansas in January.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles had won seven of their previous eight games. That other loss came by ten points at Connecticut on March 1.
UConn: Despite being absent from the conference for seven seasons, the Huskies still have more tournament titles than all the of this year’s other conference members combined (14). The Huskies last Big East title came against Notre Dame in 2012. UConn lost to the Fighting Irish in the 2013 championship game before leaving for the AAC.
STAT OF THE GAME
After scoring just two fast-break points in their 63-53 win over Marquette a week ago, the Huskies outscored the Golden Eagles 19-4 on the break Monday.
HE SAID IT
Auriemma on the program’s unprecedented success:
”I don’t care if we’re preparing for UMass Lowell, who we played in our very first game, or we’re preparing for the best team in the country on national television. It doesn’t matter to us. The preparation is the same. Scouting report is the same. We do everything the same. So there’s a consistency in what we do. And that consistency, I think, pays off when you’re committed to it. And we have really tough kids.”
Both teams await NCAA Tournament bids, where UConn is expected to be the overall No.1 seed.
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