ATLANTA – A day after being selected as WBCA All-Region III team members, University of Connecticut women’s basketball standouts Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas), Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and Breanna Stewart (North Syracuse, N.Y.) were named as finalists for the 2016 Wade Trophy, as announced by the Wade Trophy Committee on Thursday.
The candidates were selected by a vote of committee members consisting of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators. The committee will select the winner of The Wade Trophy from among these 15 finalists who also are named to the 10-member WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team when it is chosen in April. The WBCA will officially announce The Wade Trophy winner during the WBCA Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA® Women’s Final Four® in Indianapolis.
Jefferson, a finalists for the 2016 Nancy Lieberman Award and Dawn Staley Award, became the sixth-ever Husky to be chosen as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year when she earned the accolade on March 3. The guard has enjoyed a stellar senior campaign, averaging 12.8 points in 30.5 minutes per game. In total, she leads the team in assists (179) and steals (88) and is one of six Huskies shooting over 50.0 percent from the floor (56.0). Her 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks seventh among the national standings.
The outstanding senior joined Jennifer Rizzotti as the only Huskies to tally 600 career assists and 300 career steals on Feb. 27. She tallied her third consecutive season with at least 150 assists on her way to helping UConn win its third-straight American Athletic Conference Championship.
Tuck, the American Athletic Conference Sportsmanship Award winner and All-Conference First Team member, ranks third on the team with 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. She became the 41st Husky to join the 1,000-point club on Dec. 28 with 17 points against Maryland. In her first time back on the court since Jan. 16 after missing four games due to injury, Tuck tallied 11 points and pulled down five boards in UConn’s 96-38 win over Tulane on Feb. 3. In the conference tournament, she tallied 42 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists over three games.
Stewart, who joined Jefferson as one of four finalists for the 2016 Naismith Trophy on March 18, was named The American’s Player of the Year, becoming the first Husky since Kerry Bascom in 1988-91 to win three-straight Player of the Year honors. She was also tabbed as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player earlier this month. Stewart has blocked a total of 115 shots this season, which ranks fourth in the nation, while her 3.48 blocks per game checks in fifth. At 403 career blocks, Stewart is UConn’s all-time leader in rejections after passing Rebecca Lobo (396).
The North Syracuse, N.Y. native leads the team with 19.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. This season, Stewart has posted 17 20-point outings and 14 double-double performances. The senior is UConn’s second-best all-time scorer with 2,593 points. 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.
For the first time since facing Dayton on March 30, 2015 in the Elite Eight of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the three Huskies scored 20 points or more each in UConn’s 97-51 victory over Duquesne in Monday’s second-round game. Jefferson and Tuck tallied 20 points apiece, while Stewart finished with a game-high 21 points.
The Huskies will battle Mississippi State for a spot in the Regional Final on Saturday, March 26 at 11:30 a.m. in Bridgeport, Conn. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN with radio coverage on the UConn/IMG Radio Network.
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