UConn girls’s hoops tops Villanova to win Big East title

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — For practically 30 years, when the calendar turns to March, Geno Auriemma has UConn able to play its greatest on the most important stage.

This season was one of the vital difficult in latest reminiscence for the Hall of Fame coach and his Huskies. The Huskies misplaced consecutive video games for the primary time in three a long time and suffered by harm after harm that left them with simply seven wholesome gamers some video games.

Despite these setbacks, the top consequence was the identical: one other Big East event title.

Aaliyah Edwards had 19 factors and 15 rebounds to steer No. 7 UConn to its Tenth consecutive convention event title with a 67-56 victory over Tenth-ranked Villanova within the championship sport Monday evening.

“Well, we talked about it before the game that given everything we’ve been through,” Auriemma stated. “I think it gave us a little more resiliency, a little more strength. I think we got a little more tougher as the season went on. And it showed up these three days. These kids know when it’s March time, they’ve been in a couple of Final Fours. I think there’s a different vibe in our team.”

Dorka Juhasz added 16 factors and Lou Lopez Senechal scored 14 for the top-seeded Huskies (29-5), who earned the convention’s automated bid to the NCAA event. UConn has now gained 21 Big East Tournament crowns, together with the final three since re-entering the convention in 2020. Next up, the Huskies will attempt to lengthen their report run of reaching 14 consecutive Final Fours.

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“We’re talented, but we’re disciplined and dedicated to win,” Edwards stated. “It speaks to our standard and to what we are as a program and we’re a winning program. That’s what we did today.”

The Huskies celebrated by dumping confetti on one another and Auriemma even confirmed off his dance strikes, doing “The Griddy” along with his grandkids. It has been a tough 12 months personally for Auriemma, as his mom died in December and he needed to miss time with sickness.

“So many things have happened on and off the court this past season personally, team-wise, everything, that to get to this point you want to close that book,” Auriemma stated. “And now start a brand new one starting next Sunday. That book ended the right way. A lot of acts, lot of tragedies, ups and downs. The book ended the right way. Now it’s time for a new one.”

Trailing 22-21 within the second quarter, UConn turned up its protection and outscored Villanova (28-6) 13-2 over the ultimate 6:09 of the half to go up 34-24 on the break. Edwards, the Most Outstanding Player of the event, had 12 factors, making all six of her photographs, and 9 rebounds within the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskies put away the sport by scoring 22 of the primary 29 factors within the third quarter to increase the benefit to 25.

It has been a troublesome 12 months for the Huskies, who’ve handled a number of accidents beginning with Paige Bueckers tearing her ACL over the summer season. UConn has been getting more healthy these days, with Azzi Fudd returning for the Big East event after lacking the earlier 14 video games with a knee harm.

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Lopez Senechal and Edwards are the one UConn gamers to have been in each sport this season.

The Huskies misplaced two convention video games for the primary time since 2012-13 and suffered back-to-back defeats for the primary time since 1992-93.

But UConn has turned it on in March. Monday’s win was a rematch of final season’s championship sport UConn gained 70-40. This one was extra aggressive for a half, identical to the 2 regular-season conferences which the Huskies gained by 5 and 9.

“I think we’re a team that’s always ready for March,” Lopez Senechal stated. “I think even if we have a rough stretch, we knew how to overcome it, we knew how to play together. I think that’s why we’re here right now. I’m super proud of the whole team.”

Villanova was chilly from the sphere at first, making simply 6-of-25 (24%) within the first quarter, together with lacking all 10 of its 3-point makes an attempt. The Wildcats trailed 19-14 on the finish of the primary regardless of having 10 offensive rebounds. They lastly hit a 3-pointer to open the second and went on an 8-2 run to take the temporary lead. Then UConn took over.

Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats, who moved as much as Tenth within the AP ballot Monday for the college’s greatest rating ever, with 22 factors.

“She does it better than most scoring the ball,” Villanova coach Denise Dillon stated. “Finding different ways to score. Sheer determination. She found spots and created a couple looks around the basket.”

Siegrist has 984 factors this season and is trying to turn out to be the fifth participant to attain over 1,000 in a season. The Big East Player of the Year would be part of Kelsey Plum (1,109), Jackie Stiles (1,062), Odyssey Sims (1,054) and Megan Gustafson (1,001). Siegrist led the nation in scoring (29.7 factors) coming into Monday evening’s sport. She prolonged her streak to 34 consecutive video games scoring 20-plus factors. She’s one wanting Plum’s report set in 2016-17.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.