UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – UConn may no longer dominate all varsity basketball, but he will end his tenure at the American Athletic Conference as the undisputed champion.
Megan Walker scored 26 points and Christyn Williams added 22 to lead Connecticut No.5 over Cincinnati 87-53 in the conference tournament title game on Monday night, finishing a perfect run for the Huskies during their seven years in the AAC.
UConn went 139-0 in the United States after being formed in 2013, winning all but double-digit games. The Huskies leave the AAC at the end of the playoffs to join the Big East.
“We don’t expect to win every game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We are not arrogant in thinking that we deserve to win every game. We are just preparing to win every game.”
The Huskies, who also won all seven AAC regular-season titles, kept their celebration muted after the sound of the final bell, exchanging hugs and splashing confetti into drink buckets.
“We wanted to do it for our coach and the people who came before us,” said Walker, who was honored as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “It’s something we do. It’s understood.”
Angel Rizor scored 16 points, Antoinette Miller added 15 and IImar’I Thomas added 14 points for third-seeded Cincinnati (22-10), who upset the No.2 seed, UCF in the half. conference final.
Williams had a layup nine seconds into the game and the Huskies led end to end.
Rizor kept the Bearcats close in the opening 10 minutes, scoring 10 of the team’s 15 points
UConn led just 19-15 after a period, but opened the second quarter on a 13-3 run and shot 65 percent from the ground in frame (13 of 20) to take control of the game.
A Williams steal and layup sent the Huskies to halftime with a 48-26 lead.
She and Walker each had 15 points in the first half.
UConn led the Bearcats 23-16 in the third quarter and entered the fourth with an insurmountable 71-42 advantage after Crystal Dangerfield was called out to the buzzer.
Dangerfield finished with 14 points and Olivia Nelson-Ododa clocked her eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. She also blocked four shots.
UConn topped Cincinnati 48-18 in paint, 17-6 at the break and topped the Bearcats 51-31.
Auriemma said he’s happy that this group of players can tell people they’ve won a conference championship, especially with all the rumors this season has been below par for the Huskies.
“I find it a bit humorous, to be honest that a horrible year in Connecticut is 29-3 and wins a conference championship and is ranked fifth in the country,” he said. “It’s a year of rebuilding. Look across the country, years of rebuilding in other programs mean you don’t even make the tournament.”
UConn senior forward Kyla Irwin underwent surgery Monday afternoon after breaking his left elbow in a brutal fall in the Huskies’ semifinal victory over South Florida. She took part in the post-game celebration via video chat and UConn players have said the rest of the season will be dedicated to their co-captain.
“It means a lot to win this for her,” said Williams.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats made their first appearance in an AAC final. The school was looking for its first league title since 2002, when it was a member of Conference USA and beat Tulsa. The Bearcats had lost in the AAC semifinals in each of the past two years.
“We just have to keep growing as a program,” said coach Michelle Clark-Heard. “At least we know that for our season we will still have an opportunity to play and we are delighted with that.”
UConn: The Huskies have won their 139 conference games averaging over 34 points and their seven title games averaging nearly 27 points.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said Auriemma and UConn’s program in general will be remembered for their role in establishing the AAC as a legitimate league by winning titles. national.
“We didn’t want to lose them, obviously,” he said. “They gave us a lot of credibility when we needed it. And I think overall the conference is doing better because of them.”
The Connecticut governor on Monday issued a voluntary travel ban for state employees. But UConn says its basketball teams will make it to the playoffs, with only essential staff accompanying the team. The school did not specify which employees are considered essential.
Cincinnati: Bearcats await playoff bid
UConn; The Huskies are expected to be the second seed in the NCAA tournament and host the first two rounds at Storrs between March 20 and March 23.
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