UConn pounds Oregon State, advances to NCAA title game

Breanna Stewart (30) UConn vs Oregon State NCAA Semifinal (Photo Credit: Stephen Slade-UConn Athletics)

Breanna Stewart (30) takes a jump shot against Oregon State NCAA Semifinal (Photo Credit: Stephen Slade-UConn Athletics)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.–Morgan Tuck scored 21 points and No.1 UConn pummeled No.2 Oregon State 80-51 on Sunday night in the Women’s Final Four.

“It was unbelievable,” Breanna Stewart said of Tuck’s performance. “She was knocking down a lot of open threes. People need to respect her; she’s a great shooter and that’s what she did tonight.”

Stewart had 16 points and is one win away from winning her fourth title in four seasons with the Huskies (37-0). Moriah Jefferson added 10 points.

Sydney Wiese had 13 points for the Beavers (32-5). Ruth Hamblin had 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.

“They played a phenomenal game tonight,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “I thought they obviously shot the ball extremely well. With a team like that, you’ve got to kind of pick your poison. And that team made us pay, no matter what we did. And that’s why they are who they are. You know, offensively they really made us work and kept us off balance.”

The 29-point victory was the biggest margin of victory in women’s Final Four history, surpassing the 28-point win by Tennessee over Arkansas in 1998.

UConn had a 33-31 advantage on the glass. The Huskies forced 18 turnovers.

Morgan Tuck (3) takes a shot against Oregon State NCAA Semifinal (Photo Credit: Stephen Slade-UConn Athletics)

Morgan Tuck (3) takes a shot against Oregon State NCAA Semifinal (Photo Credit: Stephen Slade-UConn Athletics)

Stewart got in foul trouble early on and didn’t score until she hit a jumper with three minutes left in the first half.

Tuck was 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and it was Hamblin’s defense that forced her to shoot from outside. Tuck had 10 of the Huskies first 15 points as UConn jumped out to a 15-6 lead.

The Beavers closed in on UConn  when Jamie Weisner drained a 3-pointer to cut Oregon State’s deficit to 32-24. But the Huskies used a 15-2 run to take a 47-26 lead at the break.

Back-to-back 3s by Stewart and Tuck put UConn up 57-32 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.

While Tuck and Stewart led the Huskies in scoring, it was a total team effort that landed UConn in the Championship Game.

” We talked about being a team effort and a team win,” Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma. “It’s one thing to play against a great player, because you can gang up on them and figure out a way to get the ball out of their hands if you want to. But to try to beat a really good team that’s playing well together, that’s difficult to do.

“So if you’re going to win these games, you’re not going to be able to come out here and just say, okay, Stewy, get it done. It’s not going to happen. Invariably your team has to win these games.”

Sunday’s win was UConn’s 74th consecutive victory, the second-longest winning streak in NCAA and school history.

Hamblin finished her career at Oregon State and Pac-12 all-time blocks leader. She entered the game as the active blocks leader and after tonight has 13 more blocks than UConn’s Stewart, who has 413.

The Huskies lost freshman Katie Lou Samuelson due to a broken third metatarsal bone in her left foot. She had scored seven points prior to the injury.

“I guess it happened on the very first possession we had when she drove it to the basket,” Auriemma said. “She said she felt something and didn’t really say anything. She continued to play on it.”

The Beavers 32 wins were the most in school history, shattering the previous record of 27 set last season.

UConn will take on Syracuse on Tuesday.

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