NEW ORLEANS -- In steamrolling through the NCAA Tournament for its record-tying eighth national championship, Connecticut pummeled six quality opponents by an average margin of 34.7 points. On Tuesday night at the New Orleans Arena, the Huskies saved their best for last. Fueled by freshman Breanna Stewart's 23 points and nine rebounds, UConn used a 19-0 blitz in the first half to bury outclassed Louisville 93-60. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma won his eighth national championship to tie him with Tennessee legend Pat Summitt for the most titles in NCAA history. Keeping alive Auriemma's perfect record in national championship games, the Huskies captured their eighth title since 1995. The others came in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010. The Huskies' 33-point margin in the championship game was yet another record, easily eclipsing Tennessee's 23-point victory over Louisiana Tech in 1987. Connecticut (35-4) placed five players in double figures. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 18, Kelly Faris 16, Bria Hartley 13 and Stefanie Dolson 12. The Huskies shot 63 percent in the second half (17 of 27) and finished with 24 assists on 35 made baskets. Fifth-seeded Louisville (29-9) got 15 points from Sara Hammond, but the Cardinals trailed by as many as 35 points, 87-52, with 5:54 left. The Huskies broke open the game with a stunning 19-0 explosion over a 4:06 span of the first half, turning a 14-10 deficit into a 29-14 lead on their way to a 48-29 halftime advantage. During the decisive run, Stewart scored seven points -- including a 3-pointer from the left wing, an 18-foot jumper near the top of the key and a layup -- and Mosqueda-Lewis and Hartley added six each. Stewart's 3-pointer could have been a four-point play, but she missed the free throw after being fouled by Monique Reid. In fact, Stewart's 2-of-5 foul shooting was the only blemish on her 18-point first half. The freshman from Syracuse was unstoppable, making 7 of 11 from the field, including both 3-pointers she attempted, and she grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and recorded one block and one steal. "We really kept moving," Stewart said of the Huskies' 48 first-half points, the fourth-highest first-half total in NCAA Tournament history. "We were going inside and outside." Connecticut had 11 assists on 18 first-half field goals, and it also dominated the boards, 26-17. The Huskies built a 48-25 lead with 1:28 left in the half. The Huskies defense also forced nine Louisville turnovers and forced the Cardinals into 33 percent shooting (10 of 30). Point guard Shoni Schimmel was uncharacteristically stymied, going 1-for-8 from the floor in the first half, 3-for-15 overall. NOTES: Less than 24 hours after winning the men's national championship in Atlanta, Louisville coach Rick Pitino flew to New Orleans to cheer on the women's team. He sat just a few rows behind the Louisville bench. ... Connecticut made seven of 17 from 3-point range in the first half and then opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers by Faris, who finished 4-for-7 from long range.
- Sports & Recreation
- Breanna Stewart