Tuesday night wasn't just a second-round NCAA tournament game for Connecticut. This one was the final home game in the amazing -- and what could be historic -- careers of Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson (and possibly redshirt senior Morgan Tuck if she decides to enter the WNBA draft after this season). The Huskies fans went to Gampel Pavilion to say goodbye in Connecticut's matchup with Duquesne. The Dukes hung tough for a bit, but like so many others before them, they were overwhelmed. And the aforementioned "big three" were the biggest reasons why.
The trio combined for 61 points in just more than three quarters of action and UConn entertained the Storrs faithful to the tune of a 97-51 win for their 71st consecutive victory, the second-longest streak in NCAA history.
How the game was won: As is so typical of the Huskies, defense led the way. In a game in which the offense struggled, at least for the first 15 minutes, the UConn defense remained smart and intimidating. Here's the smart: Duquesne did not attempt a single free throw in the first half. Here's the intimidating: On a single Duquesne possession, Stewart blocked three shots -- two layups to begin the sequence and a 3-pointer to end it. That was the first of consecutive shot-clock violations, which ultimately triggered UConn's key first-half run.
Player of the game: In the early days of her career at Connecticut, Jefferson was a reluctant shooter, especially from long range. She eventually got over that, and in her last game at Gampel Pavilion things had come full circle. The senior point guard made six 3-pointers against the Dukes on her way to 20 points. She also tallied seven assists and three steals.
Turning point: Midway through the second quarter, Duquesne, thanks to some timely shooting and UConn's own offensive struggles, was still in the game, trailing 20-17. Then Stewart tipped in a miss. One minute later, Jefferson drilled a 3-pointer on an assist from Tuck. Just more than a minute after that, Jefferson returned the favor and Tuck knocked down a 3. It wasn't a typical UConn blitz, but it still became a 10-0 run and a double-digit lead. The margin never got to fewer than 10 again.
X factor: Tuck missed some easy shots early and Duquesne was in the game. Not so coincidentally, about the time the redshirt junior found her rhythm was about the time UConn took off. Tuck was 2-for-5 from the field with an air ball and a turnover, and Connecticut led just 20-14. By game's end, Tuck had 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting, nine rebounds and six assists.
Stat of the game: The Dukes hung around early and it was largely due to their 3-point shooting. Led by April Robinson's three 3-pointers, Duquesne opened the game by going 5-for-10 from behind the arc. UConn usually allows opponents only 31.1 percent from downtown. By game's end, Duquesne's 3-point shooting was down to 9-for-30 and the 2-point shooting was even worse at 29.2 percent.
Stewart, meanwhile, finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
What's next: The Huskies make the short trip to Bridgeport to face Mississippi State in the regional semifinals. UConn is two wins away from a ninth straight Final Four.