Breanna Stewart picked as AAC player of the year
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Top-ranked UConn dominated the postseason women’s basketball awards for the fledgling American Athletic Conference, with sophomore Breanna Stewart picked as player of the year Friday and Geno Auriemma receiving coach of the year honors.
Stewart averaged 19.5 points and more than eight rebounds in leading the top-ranked Huskies (31-0, 16-0 American) to the program’s seventh undefeated regular season.
”Of course, I want to be considered the best player in our conference, the best player in the country and stuff like that,” Stewart said. ”Just because as a competitive person, I want to be looked at as the best player I can be, and I think that I can go pretty far with that.”
Rutgers guard Tyler Scaife was honored as freshman of the year during ceremonies before the conference’s first postseason tournament.
Scaife is leading the conference’s freshmen in scoring, putting up 13.7 points per game while making 46 percent of her shots from the field.
But the Huskies took home the majority of the hardware.
Stewart, Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson were among 11 players on the all-conference first team, which was announced Thursday.
Dolson also was defensive player of the year and shared the Sportsmanship Award with Louisville’s Tia Gibbs.
Dolson is averaging more than nine rebounds a game, has 71 blocked shots and is leading a defense that is allowing fewer than 47 points a game and holding opponents to under 30 percent shooting.
Auriemma has led the Huskies to a 30-win season for the ninth straight year. UConn is currently on a 37-game winning streak, dating to last year’s run to the program’s eighth national title.
The Huskies won their 18 conference games by an average of more than 37 points.
”I think the level of talent that we have speaks for itself,” Auriemma said. ”When you talk about the number of players that we have that were honored here today, we’ve been in that situation before. Usually when you have that kind of team you have a tendency to win a conference championship.”
UConn opens tournament play Saturday. The Huskies appeared in the Big East’s conference championship game 23 times over the past 25 years, claiming 18 tournament titles.