The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Beasts of the East
UConn beats Villanova to win Big East Championship
UNCASVILLE — UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma danced on the sideline with his three grandsons. While he moved his hips back and forth with his family, his players posed in piles of confetti out on the court.
Moments later, when each member of the Huskies’ staff was given a trophy for winning the Big East Tournament championship, Auriemma walked into a circle of his players.
The 68-year-old bounced his shoulders up and down and jumped around in a circle, facing the Huskies as they laughed and danced along with him, sprinkling confetti on his head.
It’s been another long, bumpy and chaotic season for UConn (29-5), but on Monday, hoisting their 10th-straight conference tournament championship, the team could finally breathe.
“It almost felt like a chapter had been closed,” Auriemma said. “I can sit back now and really let everything, like, wash over you that you’ve been holding in. So many things have happened on and off the court this past season — personally, team-wise, everything — that to get to this point, you want to just close that book and now start a brand-new one starting next Sunday.
“That book ended the right way. It had a lot of acts and a lot of tragedies and a lot of ups and downs, a lot of stuff, but the book ended the right way. And now it’s time for a new one.”
For the third-straight year, confetti rained down on the Huskies inside Mohegan Sun Arena in front of a Connecticut-home crowd just 45 minutes south of campus.
No. 7-ranked UConn won its 28th total conference tournament (21st in Big East) by defeating No. 10 Villanova 67-56 Monday night in the Big East Tournament championship.
Monday’s win solidifies the top-seeded Huskies as outright Big East champs after sweeping both the regular-season and tournament crowns.
Power forward Aaliyah Edwards paced UConn with her third-straight double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. The junior was named the Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 19 points and 13 rebounds in UConn’s three wins over Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova.
“We’re super proud of her,” Dorka Juhász said. “I think the whole season she’s been carrying us. And I just remember, even last year, when the tournament came, a different Aaliyah came out to play.”
Graduate transfers Juhász (16 points, eight rebounds) and Lou Lopez Sénéchal (14 points) were named to the All-Tournament team joining Lauren Park-Lane (Seton Hall), Aneesah Morrow (DePaul) and Maddy Siegrist (Villanova).
“Just right from the beginning, we had a great chemistry and they just in