UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Gabby Williams wasn’t going to let a hip injury sideline her from the American Athletic Conference title game.
She missed UConn’s semifinal win after tweaking a long-standing injury in her left hip in the Huskies’ quarterfinal victory. She made her presence felt Tuesday night.
The senior forward had 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals in No. 1 UConn’s 70-54 win over 19th-ranked South Florida in the AAC championship. UConn earned a trip to the NCAAs for the 30th straight year.
“It was made when I woke up this morning,” Williams said of when she knew she was going to play . “I knew that if I was going to make the decision to play, I would have to go out there and attack it. I didn’t want to show I’m halfway there. I was going to play like I always do.”
Auriemma was impressed with his senior forward’s play .
“It was hard to take her out tonight,” the Hall of Fame coach said.
Williams had help from Azura Stevens, who earned MVP honors of the tournament despite coming off the bench for two of the three games. She scored 13 points for the Huskies (32-0) and is the team’s first reserve player to win MVP since Charde Houston did it in 2008.
“We don’t see Azura as someone who doesn’t start for us,” Auriemma said . “She’s the same as anyone else in the starting lineup. We choose to start a smaller lineup, but if we ever wanted to change it wouldn’t be because we didn’t like the performance of someone else, it would be because we wanted a different look. We have a starting six.”
This was the fourth straight year that these teams met for the AAC title. South Florida had lost the first three meetings by an average of 32 points and has never beaten UConn in 26 all-time meetings. Then again, no one has beaten the Huskies in the conference since league play began in 2013. The Huskies are 101-0.
Kitija Laksa scored 26 points to lead South Florida (26-7).
No. 22 Green Bay 62, Wright State 44
DETROIT — Allie Leclaire scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Jessica Lindstrom had her 41st career double-double and No. 22 Green Bay beat Wright State for its fourth straight Horizon League Tournament championship and automatic NCAA berth.
Lindstrom added 12 points and 14 rebounds for top-seed Green Bay (29-3). The Phoenix, winners of 11 straight HL tournament games, has claimed seven of the last eight titles and 16 of 21.
Green Bay held Chelsea Welch, the league’s player of the year, to just 13 points on 2-of-15 shooting.
Lexi Smith scored 14 points for No. 3 seed Wright State (23-10).
DePaul 98, Marquette 63
CHICAGO — Amarah Coleman scored a career-high 27 points and No. 2 seed DePaul routed top-seeded Marquette for the Big East Conference Tournament championship and automatic NCAA berth.
DePaul (26-7) made 16 3-pointers, one shy of a tournament record. Each Blue Demon starter finished in double-scoring after three quarters. Coleman led with 25 points as the Blue Demons built a 35-point lead, 83-48.
Seven DePaul players made at least one 3-pointer, four had five or more assists, and two finished with double-doubles.
Coleman made five 3-pointers and was 9-of-13 shooting overall. Chante Stonewall added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kelly Campbell chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ashton Millender had 16 points and Mart’e Grays 14.
Amani Wilborn, last season’s tournament Most Outstanding Player, scored 12 points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter for Marquette (23-9).
South Dakota State 65, South Dakota 50
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Summit League player of the year Macy Miller had 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals and South Dakota State snapped rival South Dakota’s 20-game winning streak with a victory for its eighth automatic NCAA Tournament bid in 10 seasons.
SDSU lost both regular-season matchups this season by six points or fewer but remained undefeated against South Dakota in the Summit championship game at 4-0.
Ellie Thompson added 14 points and Tagyn Larson chipped in with 13 for South Dakoka State (26-6).
South Dakota (26-6) was the second team in Summit League history to go undefeated in conference play — the first in 24 years.
Ciara Duffy led the Coyotes with 12 points. Jaycee Bradley, who tied a tournament record with seven 3-pointers in a 51-point quarterfinal victory over Fort Wayne, was held to six points as South Dakota was just 6 of 30 from 3-point range.
Gonzaga 79, San Diego 71
LAS VEGAS — Jill Barta scored 32 points and hit six free throws in the final 43 seconds, helping Gonzaga beat San Diego to repeat as West Coast Conference tournament champions.
Gonzaga (27-5) shut San Diego down in the third quarter on its way to a 16-point lead, but had trouble breaking the Toreros’ pressing and trapping defense in the closing minutes. San Diego (17-15) cut the lead to 73-66 with a 9-0 run, but ran out of time.
Barta, the WCC player of the year, made all 10 of her free-throw attempts and was 10 for 19 from the field.
Zykera Rice had 17 points and the Bulldogs shot 51 percent to earn their eighth WCC tournament title and fourth in six years.
Maya Hood scored 23 points and Sydney Williams had 20 for the Toreros.