UNCASVILLE, Conn. – After leading the No. 1 University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to its 21st regular season conference title, Husky head coach Geno Auriemma has been selected as the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, as announced by the league on Friday. Additionally, junior forward Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) was named as the conference’s Player of the Year, while guard Kia Nurse was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year.
Auriemma picks up his second-straight and 12th overall conference Coach of the Year honor after leading UConn to a 29-1 overall record in the regular season. The Huskies finished conference play with a perfect 18-0 record, defeating league opposition by an average of 48.7 points per game. The squad clinched The American’s regular season crown outright on Feb. 28 with an 87-24 victory over Memphis at Gampel.
Over the course of 30 seasons at Connecticut, Auriemma was named Coach of the Year in the former Big East conference a total of ten times and garnered National Coach of the Year honors seven times. Auriemma has guided the Huskies to a record nine national championships and owns the record for consecutive Final Four appearances with seven. In total, he has overseen 16 UConn trips to the Final Four.
Stewart, who became the 12th Husky to win a conference Player of the Year accolade in 2013-14, is the first Connecticut player to win consecutive Player of the Year honors since Maya Moore in 2007-09. Stewart’s accomplishment marks the program’s 19th conference player of the year nod for a Husky in the last 27 years.
At 17.4 points per game, Stewart is third in the conference and also ranks in the top-10 in field goal percentage (.540), blocks per game (2.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6). This season, the junior forward has notched 10 20-point games and has reached double figures in 26 of UConn’s 30 games.
Last week, she was named as one of 10 finalists for the 2015 Naismith Trophy and earned a spot on the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-America Second Team.
Stewart is currently tied with former standout Stefanie Dolson (1,797) for 13th on the Huskies’ all-time scoring list. Additionally, she stands in fifth on the program’s all-time blocks list with 259 career rejections.
Nurse secures the Huskies’ first conference Freshman of the Year honors since Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis took home the award in the 2011-12 season. In total, 13 Huskies have garnered the league award, including five selections since the 2005-06 campaign.
Nurse, who has helped the Huskies earn 29 wins in their first 30 games, has established herself as one of UConn’s most consistent offensive weapons. The guard is one of five Huskies averaging double-digit points (10.9) and ranks second on the squad with 99 assists. The Canadian was tabbed as the league’s Freshman of the Week on Dec. 1 and Dec. 29.
The Huskies open postseason play on Saturday, March 7 when they take on the winner of UCF/Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of The American Championship at 2 p.m.