- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Texas’ season ended for the second straight year at the hands of top-seeded UConn.

Morgan Tuck scored 22 points and Breanna Stewart added 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Huskies to an 86-65 victory over the Longhorns on Monday night in the Bridgeport Regional.

A year ago, the Huskies routed Texas by 51 points, 105-54, in the Sweet 16.

This one, coach Karen Aston said, hurt a lot more.

“When you look at the difference in the mindset of our players in preparation last year and this year, they thought they could compete,” she said.

“We had a lot to lose,” she added later. “Our team did not want this to be over.”

Sophomore Ariel Atkins and Freshman Lashann Higgs scored 19 points each to lead the Longhorns. Another sophomore, Brook McCarty added 15 points. Senior center Imani Boyette was held to just four points and six rebounds.

The Longhorns finish the season at 31-5 and have improved in each of Aston’s four years, going 77-26 since a 12-18 season in 2012-13.

“My babies carried the team tonight,” Boyette said. “We’re going to be here next year and the year after that. My freshman led us in scoring. I’m so excited about what comes after this, but I’m frustrated that we lost.”

The victory, UConn’s 73rd straight overall, was also the school’s 22nd consecutive one in the postseason, breaking a tie with Tennessee for the most in a row.

It’s UConn’s ninth straight trip to the Final Four where it will be trying for a record fourth consecutive national championship.

Making the Final Four seemed like a foregone conclusion the way UConn has played this season, winning every game by double digits. The Huskies even stepped up their play in the regionals. They shattered their record when they routed Mississippi State in the Sweet 16 by an NCAA-best 60 points.

But the Longhorns hung around with the Huskies on Monday night.

“I think this team is amazingly better (than last year),” Boyette said. “Everybody left it on the floor.”

They only trailed 30-25 with 7:21 left in the second quarter before Stewart started a 12-1 run that blew the game open. Freshman Naphessa Collier was big in the game-changing spurt, scoring five straight points. Her classmate Katie Lou Samuelson hit a 3-pointer to cap the burst.

“During (Texas’) run, when they were really good, I remember sitting down and going, you know, this is really great for women’s basketball,” joked UConn coach Geno Auriemma, whose team has been winning games by an average of better than 40 points a game.

“Not really. I’m thinking, ‘You know what’s good for Connecticut basketball? We need to go on a 12-0 run.”

The Huskies led by 15 at the half and extended the advantage to 21 early in the third quarter, but the Longhorns hit three straight 3s to come within 54-42. That’s as close as they would get as UConn scored 10 of the next 13 points to put the game away. The Huskies’ big three of Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Tuck combined for all 10 points.

The Longhorns advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2003, which was also the last season they reached the Final Four. They lost that year in the national semifinal by two points to UConn.

CARE TO MAKE A WAGER?: So much talk over the past 24 hours has been centered on UConn’s dominance in the sport and whether it’s good for the game. Well that dominance has carried over to Vegas where the Huskies were such a prohibitive money line favorite that bettors had to wager $63,000 just to return $100 on the game, according to gambling odds website Pregame.com. A money line win on Texas would mean $21,000 for a bettor wagering $100. The line was even more lopsided when it opened, meaning some bettors were taking the long shot Longhorns.

TIP-INS:

Texas: The Longhorns fell to 0-7 against the Huskies, including four losses in the NCAA Tournament. … Imani Boyette finished her stellar career as the only player in school history to have more than 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks.

UConn: Auriemma has 107 NCAA Tournament victories which puts him five behind Pat Summitt for most all time by any coach in women’s or men’s basketball. … The Huskies’ senior class is one victory behind matching Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon for most victories all time. The class of 2011 had 150 wins.

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AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this report

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Follow Pat on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/peatonrobb

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