UConn rides big third quarter to claim Big East championship in win over Villanova
UNCASVILLE, Connecticut (AP) – Alia Edwards scored 19 points and 15 rebounds and became the seventh number UConn to their 10th consecutive conference tournament title with a 67-56 win over 10th-seeded Villanova in the Big East title game on Monday night.
Dorka Juhas added 16 points and Lou Lopez Seneschal scored 14 points against the top Huskies (29-5), who automatically earned a conference bid for the NCAA Tournament. UConn has now won 21 Big East crowns, including the last three since re-entering the conference in 2020.
Trailing 22-21 in the second quarter, UConn turned their defense around and beat Villanova (28-6) 13-2 in the last 6:09 of the half to go up 34-24 at halftime. Edwards, the most outstanding player of the tournament, scored 12 points on all six shots and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
The Huskies ended the game with 22 of their first 29 points in the third quarter, extending their lead to 25.
It has been a difficult year for the Huskies, who have suffered numerous injuries since Paige Bookers I tore my anterior cruciate ligament last summer. UConn has been getting healthier lately, with Azzi Advantage returned to the Big East Tournament after missing the previous 14 games due to a knee injury.
Lopez Seneschal and Edwards are the only UConn players to appear in every game this season.
The Huskies lost three games in the conference for the first time since the 2011–2012 season and suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in 30 years.
Despite a tough regular season, UConn turned it on in March. Monday’s victory was a rematch of last year’s championship game, which UConn won 70-40. This half was more competitive, as were the two regular season meetings that the Huskies won by five and nine.
Villanova was cold off the field early on, shooting just 6 of 25 (24%) in the first quarter, including missing all 10 3-point attempts. The Wildcats trailed 19-14 at the end of the first despite 10 offensive rebounds. They finally hit a 3-pointer to open second and went on an 8-2 streak to take the lead. Then UConn took over.
Maddie Sigrist led the Wildcats who moved up to 10th. in the AP poll Monday for the school’s best ranking ever with 22 points.
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Siegrist has scored 984 points this season and is looking to become the fifth player to score over 1,000 points in a season. Big East Player of the Year will join Kelsey Plum (1109), Jackie Stiles (1062) odyssey sims (1054) and Megan Gustafson (1001). Siegrist led the nation in scoring (29.7 points) going into Monday night’s game. She extended her streak to 34 consecutive games with 20-plus points. She lacks one Plum record set in the 2016-17 season.
Both teams are waiting for their NCAA Tournament seed on Sunday. The Huskies blocked the first two rounds, and Villanova is also going to host.