In a battle of unbeatens, Geno Auriemma and the Huskies proved once again that Connecticut is the class of women’s college basketball in a dominating 79-58 win over Notre Dame in Nashville.
Led by 6-foot-4 sophomore Breanna Stewart and 6-5 senior Stefanie Dolson, four different players scored in double figures for the Huskies to give Auriemma his record ninth national championship, passing legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. The 60-year-old Auriemma, in his 29th season at UConn, is a perfect 9-0 in national championship games.
Stewart, the tournament’s most outstanding player, led the Huskies with 21 points on an impressive 10-of-15 shooting while also pulling down nine rebounds. Dolson had a fantastic all-around game with 17 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Junior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 points and seven boards, while senior guard Bria Hartley contributed 13 points.
The win clinched a perfect 40-0 season for the Huskies and handed Notre Dame (37-1) its first loss since April 7, 2013 – also a national title game loss to UConn.
Notre Dame, which was playing without 6-3 senior leader Natalie Achonwa, was led by senior guard Kayla McBride (21 points) and Jewell Loyd (13 points), while Michaela Mabrey added 10 off the bench. The loss was Notre Dame’s third in the title game in the past four seasons. The Irish were seeking their first championship since 2001.
Using its size to an extreme advantage, it was clear UConn was the better team from the start. The Huskies jumped out to an early 22-8 lead at the 11:30 mark of the first half with 18 of those 22 points coming from Stewart and Dolson down low.
The Huskies scored 32 points in the paint in the first half to build a seven-point halftime lead over their former Big East rivals. The Huskies then scored 18 of the first 22 points in the game’s second half to squelch any possible Notre Dame comeback.
For the game, UConn shot 46.6 percent from the field while outrebounding the Fighting Irish 54-31 and limiting then to just 35.5 percent shooting and 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from the 3-point line.
Storrs, Conn., Is now the capital of the college basketball world after the UConn men’s team knocked off Kentucky Monday night.
- - - - - - -