TAMPA BAY, FLA. – Morgan Tuck has flown under the national radar all season long.
After missing nearly all of last season due to a knee injury, Morgan Tuck went unnoticed coming into this season, almost hiding behind the massive shadow’s casted by Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
Even though Tuck has had an amazing season (averaging 14.2 points per game) when the All-American Team was announced on Saturday, she wasn’t on the list. She watched as three of her teammates received All-American honors.
“We talked about it after the awards came out and she was OK with it, she was OK with it,” Geno Auriemma said.
Just a day after the Al-American announcement, Tuck showcased her talented skillset to the nation on Sunday night in the Final Four, proving maybe she should have be chosen as UConn’s fourth All-American player.
Tuck scored 24 points and collecting nine rebounds as UConn rolled over Maryland 81-58 in front of a pro-UConn crowd of 19,730 at Amalie Arena.
“She was one of their three that wasn’t an All-American, right?” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “[She] had an All-American night. She’s such a difficult matchup, she took us inside she took us out.”
Sunday’s game began as most thought it would: fast paced. By the second media timeout of the first half, UConn held a 22-16 lead. Twelve of Maryland’s first 16 points came inside the paint and UConn was scoring from all over the court from many different players.
It wasn’t until a Mosqueda-Lewis three (her first and only field goal of the night) that UConn (37-1) notched its first double-digit lead at 29-19.
Maryland’s Lexie Brown made a three with 1:54 left in the half to cut UConn’s lead to six points, but Tuck scored five straight points to end the half to put the Huskies back ahead by double figures, 44-33.
Tuck led the Huskies at half with 13 points (6-of-9 shooting) and six rebounds. Maryland (34-3) didn’t have a player in double figures in the first half and shot 48 percent from the field. UConn shot 57 percent in the first half.
The Huskies opened the second half on a 5-0 to create a 49-33 lead, causing Frese to call a timeout just 2:15 into the half.
“The thing about UConn is it’s not one person contributing to that run, it’s the entire team,” Maryland guard Lexie Brown said. “We would try to keep out one person and somebody else would score.”
UConn’s run reached 11-2 to put the Huskies up by 20. The Terrapins never got closer than 14 after that.
“We continued to get deflated as they went on their runs,” Brown said.
UConn has used second-half runs to separate themselves all season long, and Sunday was nothing different. Frese said at the start of the second half was when she felt the game starting to slip away.
“They came out and their aggressiveness defensively, they were really physical,” Frese said. “Obviously they really clamped us from the field and we were having a difficult time being able to score.”
Maryland made just nine field goals in the second half, and didn’t even attempt a free throw until 11:35 left in the game.
Tuck and Stewart caused matchup problems all night and Maryland didn’t have much of an answer with their center Brionna Jones in foul trouble.
Stewart finished with 25 points and eight rebounds for UConn. The two combined for 49 of UConn’s 81 points.
UConn shot 54 percent from the field and held Maryland to just 41 percent.
Brown finished with 12 points for the Terrapins.
The Huskies have reached the championship game in five of the last seven seasons, and will seek their third consecutive title on Tuesday night against Notre Dame.
“There is still work to do, we have practice tomorrow and we really have to focus in on Notre Dame because we don’t just want to play in the national championship game, we want to win the game,” Stewart said