TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Breanna Stewart came to UConn with one goal in mind: to win four national championships.
After Tuesday night, she is another step closer to reaching that goal.
UConn defeated Notre Dame 63-53 to capture the programs 10th championship — its third straight — and she is closer than ever to accomplishing what she came to UConn to do.
“I think it’s really surreal, I haven’t even had the chance to think about that – the fact that I’ve won three national championships, but I said I want to win four and you cant win four without winning three,” Stewart said.
According to Stewart, of the three championships she’s won, this year’s was the most difficult.
“We had to grow as players and as people off the court, and that’s what we did,” Stewart said. “You saw a struggle in November when we lost to Stanford in November, that kind of thing, and just the way we’ve grown to become the type of team that you saw tonight and national champions.”
Stewart now has to be considered as one of the greatest players to ever wear a UConn jersey. Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, whoever it may be, Stewart’s name has to be on that list now.
In just three seasons, she has 1,935 points and sits in 11th place on the UConn all-time scoring list. With one more season to go in her college career, Stewart will climb all the way to second on that list by the end of next season. Maya Moore sits on top of the all-time program leader with 3,036 points.
Stewart is also fifth on the school’s all-time blocks list with 288.
“There just hasn’t been a player like Stewie in the women’s game in a long, long time,” head coach Geno Auriemma said.
This week in Tampa Bay, Stewart received nearly every award that was presented. She was tabbed as the 2015 AP Player of the Year for the second straight year and the USBWA and WBCA National Player of the Year awards.
Lastly, she was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the third straight season, something that nobody has ever done. When ESPN’s Holly Rowe presented her the award on the stage after the game, she was fighting back tears.
“So for her to get three Most Outstanding Players, as I said, she set her goal to do that and maybe that’s why she broke down up on the stage today, that she knows how hard she worked to get here, and I’m proud of her,” Auriemma said. “She has to do it under unbelievable expectations, the weight of expectations on Stewie are way different than any other kid playing college basketball.”
Stewart now has a chance to win a fourth national championship next season, something that nobody has ever done. Every team is going to be gunning for the Huskies next season.
Championship No. 4 might be the toughest one yet. The pressure and spotlight is going to be beaming on her all season long. But if anyone can do it, it’s Stewart.