ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (AP) _ Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart became just the second freshman to be the most valuable player at the women’s Paradise Jam tournament. The other was former UConn star Maya Moore.
Stewart scored 17 points Saturday to lead No. 2 Connecticut to a 91-57 rout of No. 14 Purdue and the tournament championship.
She finished the three games with 57 points and has 90 this season. Moore had 93 through her first five games, and went on to win two national titles.
“I hope Breanna accomplishes the same things in college that Maya did,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That would be a heck of a career.”
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 15 points for UConn (5-0), before leaving with just over 2 minutes left after taking what appeared to be an inadvertent elbow to the head.
The Huskies had four players in double figures.
Connecticut, which also beat Wake Forest by 61 points and Marist by 42 in the tournament, was expecting a tougher game from the previously undefeated Boilermakers (5-1).
But the Huskies jumped out to an 11-0 lead and never trailed.
The defending Big Ten champions were blown out despite shooting 13 of 22 from 3-point range. Guard Courtney Moses led all scorers with 24 points, hitting six of her eight shots from behind the arc. KK Houser added 16 for the Boilermakers.
“We fought from start to finish, and I’m very proud of our team,” Moses said. “We know where we need to go from here. It was a great game and no reason to hold our heads down.”
But the Huskies dominated inside, outscoring Purdue 46-8 in the paint and blocking seven shots. Stewart had three of those.
Purdue turned the ball over on its first four possessions and missed its first five shots, as UConn opened the game on a 16-2 run.
“We missed shots early, probably eight layups, so if we could have had four of those layups it could have been just a different game,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said.
Moses kept Purdue in the game, hitting her first three 3-pointers and scoring 11 of her 24 in the first half. A 3-pointer
and layup by Moses on back-to-back possessions cut the UConn lead to 27-15.
But the Huskies forced the Boilermakers into 25 turnovers and 16 in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Stewart stretched the lead back to 37-18 and forced Versyp to call a timeout, during which she was hit with a technical foul for comments she made to the referees.
A driving layup by Bria Hartley made it 46-26 at halftime. The Huskies increased that to 69-39 midway through the second half, and led by as many as 40.
Purdue’s Sam Ostarello, who leads the team in rebounding and had 15 points and 15 in the Boilermakers’ win over Wake Forest on Friday night, picked up her fourth foul early in the second half.
She finished scoreless with no rebounds.
Stewart matched her season average Saturday after a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in the Huskies’ win over Marist on Friday night.
“I think she showed over these last three games that she’s got an awful lot of ways to help her team,” Auriemma said. “Whether it’s offensively making jump shots or whether it’s getting in the lane. Defensively, it’s blocking shots. She just has an awful lot of skills that over three games in one place, a lot of people are going to notice.”
“I’ll remember having a great experience with the team, just going out and winning the whole thing and having a great time doing it,” Stewart said.
Connecticut has won 49 straight games in regular-season tournaments, dating back to December, 1992 and a loss to Vanderbilt in the Hilton Head Super Shootout.
The Huskies also improved to 5-1 against the Boilermakers and have won five straight in the series. UConn’s only loss came in 1990. They last met in the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament, where the Huskies won 64-40.
The win improves Connecticut’s record against ranked teams to 185-58.
Purdue has never beaten a No. 2-ranked team, falling to 0-7 all-time.
The Boilermakers, who beat Marist on Thursday and Wake Forest on Friday, finished the tournament at 2-1.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)