Big three lead UConn past Duquesne 97-51 in NCAA round two

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn’s “Big Three” say they could not have scripted a better final home game for each other.

Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson each added 20 in their Gampel Pavilion finale, leading UConn to a 97-51 victory over Duquesne on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Stewart also grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked five shots. Tuck added nine rebounds and both she and Jefferson had seven assists as the Huskies (34-0) moved into the regional semifinals for the 23rd consecutive year.

“Today was just a magnificent performance by the three of them,” said coach Geno Auriemma. “It was really something to see, just the way they feed off each other, the way they instill confidence in their teammates.”

Deva’Nyar Workman scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and April Robinson added 16 points for Duquesne (28-6), which was playing in its first NCAA Tournament.

“I’m actually glad we went out to the number-one team in the country than to anybody else,” said Workman. “This is the best way to go out, for me.”

The Huskies extended their winning streak to 71 games, making it the second longest in team and Division I women’s history. They own the top three streaks on that list and surpassed the 70-game streak they set between November 2001 and November 2003.

UConn led just 20-17 early in the second quarter before going on a 19-2 run grab control of the game.

UConn took the momentum early in the second quarter when Stewart had three blocks on a single possession, forcing one of two consecutive shot-clock violations.

“It was a huge momentum shift for our team,” Stewart said. “Everyone was excited, the fans got involved, but also they had a shot-clock violation so that was a little defeating for them.”

With those blocks, she became the first player in Division I women’s history with at least 400 blocked shots (402) and 400 assists (410).

The Huskies dominated the game down low, outrebounding Duquesne 51-31 and outscoring them 50-18 in the paint.

Duquesne coach Dan Burt wanted his team to weather the first five minutes, and they trailed just 13-9 midway through the first quarter, part of an 8-0 run that saw the Dukes take a 14-13 lead. But they trailed 20-14 after the first quarter.

The Huskies held Duquesne to just eight baskets on 34 attempts in the first half (24 percent) and led 42-21 after 20 minutes.

Burt paraphrased Mike Tyson, saying everyone has a plan against UConn until they get punched in the face.

“That second quarter, we got punched in the face,” he said. “But, instead of losing what the plan was, I think we still battled.”

The Dukes shot just 29 percent for the game.

A layup by Jefferson gave the Huskies their first 30 point lead at 62-31 and UConn scored 11 of the quarters final 13 points to take a 69-33 lead.

Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson left the game together midway through the fourth quarter with the Huskies leading 79-40.

Stewart and Jefferson are seniors. Tuck, who came in during the same class, is considering leaving for the WNBA despite having another year of eligibility because of a knee injury that cost her most of her sophomore season.

She said it was a much better night for the trio than their senior night, when they opened 5 of 24 from the field after being honored before the game. They trailed in that one after a quarter before beating Tulane by 40 points.

“It was a little different tonight because we knew this could be the last game of our season,” she said. “We don’t want to play bad when that happens. We don’t want to be upset.”

The Huskies have won 117 of their last 118 games and 108 in a row against unranked teams.

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.