Tuck and Stewart lead UConn back to the title game

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INDIANAPOLIS — Morgan Tuck scored 21 points and Breanna Stewart added 16 to help UConn rout Oregon State 80-51 in record fashion Sunday night in the women’s Final Four.

The Huskies are one victory away from a fourth consecutive national championship fulfilling Stewart’s goal. A feat never accomplished before in women’s basketball.

If UConn does win on Tuesday night coach Geno Auriemma will have an 11th national championship moving him past vaunted UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden for the most all time.

The 29-point victory was the biggest margin of victory in women’s Final Four history, surpassing the 28-point win by Tennessee over Arkansas in 1998. It was UConn’s 74th consecutive victory, the second-longest winning streak in NCAA and school history.

Stewart wasn’t much of a factor for the Huskies in the opening 20 minutes. The three-time AP player of the year picked up two quick fouls and didn’t score her first points until she hit a turnaround jumper with 3 minutes left in the half. That basket came in the middle of a 15-2 run to close the opening 20 minutes.

She quashed any thoughts of an Oregon State rally, scoring 14 points in the second half for UConn (37-0). Just as they had done in the previous 73 games, the Huskies won by double digits.

Next up will be either Syracuse or Washington. Either team will have a very tall task in front of them to stop UConn’s historic run. The Huskies have never lost in an NCAA title game.

Tuck was a big reason why UConn was able to build its big lead. Oregon State had 6-foot-6 center Ruth Hamblin guarding her for most of the first half. The Beavers’ center was playing off her, daring Tuck to shoot from the outside. She had 10 of the Huskies first 15 points as UConn jumped out to a 15-6 advantage.

UConn led 32-24 after Jamie Weisner hit a 3-pointer with 5:33 left in the half. Then the Huskies took over.

About the only negative for UConn was that freshman Katie Lou Samuelson broke a bone in her left foot in the first half. She missed practice Saturday because she was feeling under the weather. She started on Sunday, scoring seven points in the first half in 17 minutes. She didn’t come out of the locker room for the start of the second half, returning to the UConn bench early in the third quarter with a boot on her foot.

Oregon State’s season came to an end. The Beavers won their first conference tournament title, and reached the Final Four for the first time. Not bad for a program that was in disarray six years ago.

Then coach Scott Rueck came in and the Beavers have been on the rise since.

Sydney Weise scored 13 points to lead Oregon State (32-5). Hamblin finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. She left with 1:25 left, getting a hug from Rueck.

TIP-INS:

Oregon State: The Beavers 32 wins were the most in school history, shattering the previous record of 27 set last season. … They had won 22 of their past 23 games. … Oregon State had 13 turnovers and nine baskets in the first half.

UConn: The Huskies’ biggest margin of victory in the Final Four before Sunday was a 27-point win over Stanford in 1995. … No team that hasn’t played UConn during the season or the year before has beaten them in the past decade. … Moriah Jefferson moved into first place on the school’s all-time assist list as she passed Jen Rizzotti’s mark of 648. … Jefferson finished with 10 points and seven assists.

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.