ESPN News Services3 minute read
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Aaliyah Edwards had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead No. 7 UConn to its 10th straight conference tournament title with a 67-56 win over No. 10 Villanova in the Big East Tournament title game Monday evening.
Dorka Juhasz added 16 points and Lou Lopez Senechal scored 14 for the Huskies (29-5), which won the conference’s automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. UConn has now won 21 Big East Tournament crowns, including the last three since returning to the conference in 2020.
Trailing 22-21 in the second quarter, UConn strengthened its defense and beat Villanova (28-6) 13-2 in the final 6:09 of the half to come back 34-24 at the break. Edwards, the tournament’s most notable player, had 12 points, making six shots and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
The Huskies ended the game scoring 22 of the first 29 points in the third quarter to increase the lead to 25.
It’s been a tough year for the Huskies, who have dealt with a host of injuries, starting with Paige Bueckers tearing her ACL over the summer. UConn has been healthier lately, with Azzi Fudd returning for the Big East Tournament after missing the previous 14 games with a knee injury.
Senechal and Edwards are the only UConn players to appear in every game this season.
The Huskies lost three conference games for the first time since 2011-12 and suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in 30 years.
Despite the difficult regular season, UConn activated it in March. Monday’s win was a rematch of last season’s championship game which UConn won 70-40. This one was more competitive for one half, as were the two regular season games the Huskies won by five and nine.
Villanova was cold off the field early on, going just 6 of 25 (24%) in the first quarter, including missing all of his 10 3-point attempts. The Wildcats trailed 19-14 at the end of the first despite having 10 offensive rebounds. They eventually hit a 3-pointer to open the second and raced 8-2 to take the brief lead. Then UConn took over.
Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats, who climbed to 10th in Monday’s AP poll for the school’s best standings to date with 22 points.
Siegrist has 984 points this season and is looking to become the fifth player to score over 1,000 points in a season. The Big East Player of the Year would join 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 points) heading into Monday night’s game. She extended her streak to 34 consecutive games by scoring more than 20 points. She is one short shy of Plum’s record set in 2016-17.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.