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UConn's Jefferson is player of week

Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.

As Connecticut finally returns to the No. 1 ranking in the national polls, maybe it's only appropriate that one of the Huskies' bright stars accompanies the ride as the espnW national player of the week.

Moriah Jefferson was magical last Monday night against top-ranked South Carolina in the regular-season game of the year, explosive and productive and the engine that drove a clear-cut Connecticut victory that had to surprise very few.

The speedy junior guard, who played at times as if shot out of a cannon, finished the game against the Gamecocks with 16 points and six assists and was the catalyst for all that went well for Connecticut on both ends of the floor.

"She's our leader when it comes to intensity and energy," Connecticut senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said after the South Carolina win. "The confidence she has right now is the key to everything for us."

Jefferson followed up with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists against Tulane on Saturday.

"You come off a big game and you don't want to go back," Jefferson said after the Tulane game. "You want to keep moving forward."

In Jefferson's case, that means as quickly as possible. At 5-foot-7, the Texas native makes up for in speed what she lacks in size, blasting into the lane to get to the rim. She has collected 61 steals and tallied 115 assists so far this season.

And on a team with the best shooter in the country in Mosqueda-Lewis, Jefferson is holding her own, shooting nearly 51 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Over the past 12 games, Jefferson is averaging 13.9 points on 57.7 percent shooting from the floor.

Jefferson is not the name that anyone thinks of first when it comes to the Huskies cadre of stars, such as Mosqueda-Lewis and preseason player of the year Breanna Stewart. But her teammates are well aware what she's doing for them.

"I think that she's really understood what she's doing on this team. Who gets the ball where, and when she should give this person the ball and when she shouldn't," Stewart said after the South Carolina win. "She's really taken on that role of a true point guard. She's playing the point guard position as well as anyone I've played with."

Also nominated: Makayla Epps, Kentucky and Shae Kelley, Minnesota.

Graham Hays contributed to this report.

Previous honorees: Nov. 24: Stanford's Thompson | Dec. 1: Chattanooga's Gilbert | Dec. 8: UConn's Tuck | Dec. 15: Notre Dame's Loyd | Dec. 22: Duke's Williams | Dec. 29: Ohio State's Mitchell | Jan. 5 Minnesota's Zahui B. | Jan. 12: Miami's Motley | Jan. 19: LSU's Ballard | Jan. 26: Oregon State's Weisner | Feb. 2: Oregon's Alleyne | Feb. 9: Florida State's Bulgak