UConn to defend national championship after defeating Maryland, 81-58
— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) April 6, 2015
By David Siegel and Cheryl Coward
TAMPA, Fla – It was not one of their most aesthetically pleasing games, but Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies will take it. The top-ranked and overall number one seed seized control early and slowly built their lead, defeating Maryland 81-58 in the second of two semi-final games in Tampa tonight. UConn advances to face Notre Dame on Tuesday night for the championship.
The top shooting team in the country, the Huskies hit on 53 percent of their shots, while holding Maryland to only 41 percent shooting, and outscored the Terrapins 40-to-26 in the paint. Breanna Stewart led the Huskies with 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting, while Morgan Tuck added 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Tuck added nine rebounds as well, and keyed the first half lead with 13 points in the half.
Senior sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was off today, hitting only 1-of 8 shots, but still gave out seven assists to lead the team, while point guard Moriah Jefferson had eleven points and four assists in the first half alone, finishing with 14 points and five assists.
Maryland hung tough for the majority of the first half, tying the game at 10 after six minutes, before UConn extended to an eleven point lead at the half, 44-33.
However, UConn came out with a 10-4 run to start the second half, keyed by five points from Stewart, stretching that to as much as 25 before finishing with the 23 point final margin of victory.
Maryland, with only one senior in their regular rotation, capped a strong season that saw them go undefeated in their first season in the Big 10 conference and a top seed in the tournament. Center Brionna JOnes led the Terps with 14 points and four rebounds, while guards Lexie Brown and Brene Moseley had 12 each. Two of the keys to their postseason success, Laurin Mincy and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough were held to nine points on 4-for-13 shooting by the UConn defense.
Back on December 6, 2014 UConn defeated Notre Dame in their only meeting of the season, 76-58, as Tuck scored 25 points. Notre Dame fans will quickly point out star freshman post Brianna Turner missed that game injured, while Connecticut supporters will point to the zero point, foul out performance by Jefferson.
The bottom line is both teams have improved tremendously since December, and this has the makings of another outstanding matchup in the best current rivalry in women’s basketball.