Earlier this season, Geno Auriemma showed Moriah Jefferson clips of the Spurs' Tony Parker. The coach wanted his point guard to be more dynamic, more of a playmaker, more reliant are her quickness, ability to get to the basket and create chances for teammates.
We saw the culmination of a season's worth of work on Tuesday, when Jefferson scored 15 points -- included several clutch second-half 3s -- to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals.
It was a noteworthy performance, particularly since Jefferson combined to go 3 for 23 in six previous games against the Fighting Irish. And her effort wasn't lost on teammate Breanna Stewart, the national player of the year who also named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player -- an honor Stewart said Jefferson rightly deserved.
“Our relationship has been strong since the beginning,” Stewart said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “Anytime you see someone having success, you want to share it with them. Even if they don’t give her the MOP that I asked them to, at least she will know that I thought she should get it, and I told everyone that I thought she should get it.”
Jefferson was moved by Stewart's words.
“We’ve been close for a long time,” Jefferson said. “We played with each other and played against each other. She’s an incredible player and any time you have someone that cares about you a lot … For her to get up there in front of the big crowd and on national television to say that I deserved it means so much to me. But, honestly, I think she deserves it. She carried us this whole year and she means so much to the program. We wouldn’t be here with out her.
“I’m so proud of her.”
Either way, Jefferson's growth hasn't gone unnoticed; she won the Lieberman Award last week as the nation's best point guard.
“Oh my gosh, Nancy Lieberman has done so much for the women’s game on and off the court,” she said. “In Dallas, all you hear about is Nancy Lieberman. She’s amazing. To win that award, especially following all the guys that won it here, means so much to me.”