PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Six standouts from the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team earned spots on the 2015-16 American Athletic Conference All-Conference teams, as announced by the league on Thursday. Breanna Stewart (North Syracuse, N.Y.), Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas) and Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook, Ill.) were placed on the All-Conference First Team, while Kia Nurse (Hamilton, Ontario) was placed on the Third Team. Katie Lou Samuelson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Napheesa Collier (O’Fallon, Missouri) were named to the All-Freshman Team.
In addition to a spot on the All-Conference squad, Jefferson was tabbed as the conference’s 2015-16 Defensive Player of the Year, while Tuck was honored with the Sportsmanship Award.
Tuck is the third Husky after Renee Montgomery in 2008-09 and Stefanie Dolson in 2013-14 to earn the Sportsmanship Award. The redshirt junior forward ranks third on the team with 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Her 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio stands third in the conference. She became the 41st Husky to join the 1,000-point club on Dec. 28 with 17 points against Maryland.
Jefferson becomes the sixth-ever Husky to receive a conference Defensive Player of the Year honor and fourth-straight after Kiah Stokes picked up the designation a season ago, Stefanie Dolson took home the honor in 2013-14 and Kelly Faris grabbed the accolade in 2012-13.
The Texan, who is averaging 13.1 points in 31.1 minutes per game this season, has been UConn’s fearless leader at point. In total, she ranks first on the team in assists (151) and steals (76). She is one of six Huskies shooting over 50.0 percent from the floor (55.7). Jefferson tops the league with 2.7 steals per game and a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. She joined Jennifer Rizzotti as the only Huskies to tally 600 career assists and 300 career steals on Feb. 27. Additionally, the 2015 Nancy Lieberman Award winner is among 10 candidates nominated for the honor this season.
At 19.6 points per game, Stewart is second in the conference and also ranks in the top-five in field goal percentage (57.9), assists/game (4.1), rebounds/game (8.6), blocks/game (3.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6). This season, the senior forward has posted 15 20-point performances and has reached double figures in 28 of UConn’s 29 games.
The North Syracuse, N.Y. native is UConn’s second-best all-time scorer with 2,508 points and stands second on the all-time blocks list with 385 rejections. Stewart is the only player in NCAA history to reach 300 blocks and 300 assists, while checking in as the seventh NCAA Division I women’s player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 steals and 200 blocks.
In February, Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck were selected to the Wooden Award Late Season Top-20 list.
A unanimous selection, Samuelson has been one of the top threats for the Huskies from beyond the arc. The freshman boasts a 36.9 three-point field goal percentage, which is third on the team and sixth in the conference. She has made 14 starts in 29 games, averaging 10.3 points and reaching double figures in scoring 17 times this season. The California native was tabbed as the Freshman of the Week on Dec. 7, Jan. 18, Feb. 22 and Mar. 1.
Off the bench, Collier is averaging 6.6 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18.0 minutes. She scored a career-high 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting against UCF on Jan. 20 and recorded her first career double-double (11 points, 12 boards) against Cincinnati on Dec. 30. She was named Freshman of the Week twice on Dec. 14 and Dec. 28.
Nurse, who has helped the Huskies to its third undefeated season in The American, has established herself as one of UConn’s most valuable sparks. The guard is averaging 9.1 points and checks in at No. 3 on the team with 81 assists. In February, the Canadian earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District I First Team.
The league will announce its selections for Player, Coach, Freshman and Scholar-Athlete of the Year at a press conference on Friday, March 4 at 2 p.m.