by Spencer Mayfield
After missing most of the 2013-2014 season with a knee injury, redshirt sophomore forward Morgan Tuck returned to the NCAA Tournament in a big way.
Tuck led all scorers with a career high 26 points in no. 1 UConn’s 89-33 victory over no. 16 seed St. Francis Brooklyn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Tuck was happy to be able to make an impact in the postseason after watching from the bench last year.
“It was pretty hard sitting out watching and pretty much just being a cheerleader,” Tuck said. “It means a lot being able to be out there and actually help my teammates. Not being able to help them was the hardest thing.”
Tuck was a force early and often for the Huskies as she scored 10 quick points to help UConn build an 18-11 lead just four minutes into the game.
Tuck getting going early was important to UConn as she proved to be another threat in a versatile offense. Tuck also recorded a career-high 8 assists on the night as her performance made things easier for her teammates.
“Morgan was a beast like always,” junior guard Moriah Jefferson said. “She makes it really easy as a point guard to be able to dump it in and know she is going to knock down those layups. Not even just that, she had 8 assists so she was passing the ball well and she played great.”
Tuck’s dominance in the paint continued through the first half as she scored 20 of her 26 points in the first half on 9 of 10 shooting from the field.
Although Tuck is often overlooked as she is surrounded by other great players, her versatility does not come as a surprise to UConn head coach Geno Auriemma
“It was unfortunate what happened last year and we got lucky in the tournament that her not playing didn’t cost us,” Auriemma said. “For as long as I’ve seen Morgan and for as long as she’s been at Connecticut it seems to me the bigger the games, the better she plays.”
Tuck’s scoring was also efficient as she shot 12 for13 from the field while tying her career high of 12 made field goals in a game.
Tuck’s 26-point performance was the most that she has scored in an NCAA Tournament game since she scored 19 points against no.16 Idaho in 2013. Tuck averaged 8.8 points per game during the 2013 postseason.
As UConn advances in the tournament they expect Tuck to play a big role if they hope to have success. Although outsiders often overlook Tuck, Auriemma knows that her presence this post-season will be a big advantage.
“Within our team we know what Morgan does for us and we wouldn’t be where we are without her,” Auriemma said. “If we hope to win this thing it is really not going to happen without Morgan Tuck.”