Aaliyah Edwards had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead No. 7 UConn to its 10th consecutive conference tournament title with a 67-56 victory over 10th-ranked Villanova in the Big East Tournament title game Monday night.
Dorka Juhasz added 16 points and Lou Lopez Senechal scored 14 for the top-seeded Huskies (29-5), who earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. UConn has now won 21 Big East Tournament crowns, including the last three since re-entering the conference in 2020.
Trailing 22-21 in the second quarter, UConn turned up its defense and outscored Villanova (28-6) 13-2 over the final 6:09 of the half to go up 34-24 at the break. Edwards, the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, had 12 points, making all six of her shots, and nine rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
The Huskies put away the game by scoring 22 of the first 29 points in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 25.
It has been a difficult year for the Huskies, who have dealt with a host of injuries starting with Paige Bueckers tearing her ACL over the summer. UConn has been getting healthier lately, with Azzi Fudd returning for the Big East Tournament after missing the previous 14 games with a knee injury.
Lopez Senechal and Edwards are the only UConn players to have been in every game this season.
The Huskies lost three conference games for the first time since 2011-12 and suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in 30 years.
Despite the tough regular season, UConn has turned it on in March. Monday's win was a rematch of last season's championship game that UConn won 70-40. This one was more competitive for a half, just like the two regular-season meetings which the Huskies won by five and nine.
Villanova was cold from the field at the start, making just 6-of-25 (24%) in the first quarter, including missing all 10 of its 3-point attempts. The Wildcats trailed 19-14 at the end of the first despite having 10 offensive rebounds. They finally hit a 3-pointer to open the second and went on an 8-2 run to take the brief lead. Then UConn took over.
Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats, who moved up to 10th in the AP poll Monday for the school's best ranking ever, with 22 points.
QUEST FOR 1K
Siegrist has 984 points this season and is looking to become the fifth player to score over 1,000 in a season. The Big East Player of the Year would join Kelsey Plum (1,109), Jackie Stiles (1,062), Odyssey Sims (1,054) and Megan Gustafson (1,001). Siegrist led the nation in scoring (29.7 points) coming into Monday night's game. She extended her streak to 34 consecutive games scoring 20-plus points. She's one short of Plum's record set in 2016-17.
Both teams await their NCAA Tournament seeding on Sunday. The Huskies have locked up hosting the first two rounds and Villanova is in the mix to host as well.