UConn women's basketball: Breanna Stewart makes case she's the greatest ever with fourth title
INDIANAPOLIS -- As the UConn Huskies celebrated another championship at center court after beating Syracuse on Tuesday night, seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson got on their knees and were knighted with a sword by teammate Morgan Tuck.
“In the name of UConn women’s basketball, I knight Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson as great UConn women’s basketball players,” Tuck said.
For Stewart, that praise might not be effusive enough.
Stewart isn't just one of the Huskies' best ever; there's a case to be made she's the greatest player in women’s college basketball history. And a strong one, at that.
Four seasons, four championships, four Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four honors.
You can’t do any better than that, and frankly, no one before her had ever done as much.
History is made! pic.twitter.com/mqQbuSd9Oa— NCAA Women's BKB (@ncaawbb) April 6, 2016
No other player in history has ever claimed more than two straight Most Outstanding Player honors, and the only others that can claim they have won four championships are teammates Jefferson and Tuck.
And as incredible as Jefferson and Tuck are, Stewart has been the Huskies’ top dog during their careers, especially come March and April.
“This is when it’s the most exciting,” Stewart told ESPN after the game. “This is when you are going after championships, so why wouldn’t you be your best in March?”
Stewart will leave the game with her name all over the NCAA tournament record books.
She ranks third all time in points (446), third in rebounds (207) and second in blocks (71).
And, as the great ones do, she always saves her best tournament performances for last.
Stewart poured in a game-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and tacked on six assists in the Huskies’ 82-51 demolition of Syracuse in the 2016 championship. But you couldn’t have expected anything less from her.
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Stewart’s track record in title games is the stuff of legends, which, Stewart is.
In her four championship appearances, she averaged 19 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Remarkable. But that was the norm for Stewart.
She brought a sustained level of excellence that has never been seen before.
The ultimate winner. Stewart went 151-5 during her UConn career. 151 wins. The only other players that have reached that win total are her fellow senior classmates.
Versatile. She finishes as the only player in history to ever reach 300 career blocks and 300 career assists. She ranks first all-time in blocks and second all-time in scoring in UConn history.
Dominant. She racked up three Naismith Player of the Year trophies as well. USC great Cheryl Miller is the only other women's player to accomplish such a feat.
Ultimately, legacies are built in March and April, something Stewart seemed to understand four years ago.
When Stewart came to UConn in 2012 as a highly touted-recruit, she set a lofty goal for her and her class.
“I want to win four national championships,” she said then.
I am a woman of my word!!!! #BleedBlue— Breanna Stewart (@bre_stewart30) April 6, 2016
“It’s unbelievable," she said after the game. "That was our goal coming in here when we were freshmen and to carry it out like this as senior is unbelievable.”
“We went out with bang. We went out with a bang. That’s it. No more. We did what we were supposed to do.”
When doing what you’re supposed to do is scoring 24 points and leading your team to a fourth straight championship in your final game, you’re a great player.
Breanna Stewart is a great player. She might just be the greatest of them all.