Throughout 2019, there have been signs. A few small hints. Hints that the stratospheric dominance of UConn women’s basketball was waning. There were hint in Storrs last weekend and Albany two days ago. Hints in Louisville in late January, Waco in early January, and on Selection Monday, when the Huskies, for the first time since 2006, did not earn a No. 1 seed.
Yet on Sunday, the streak continued. Of course it did.
The second-seeded Huskies toppled top-seeded Louisville in the Elite Eight, 80-73, booking a place in the Final Four for the 12th consecutive season. That’s an NCAA tournament record, for women or men. Of course it is.
UConn got 29 points from senior star Katie Lou Samuelson, who hit seven of her 12 3-pointers and eight of nine free throws. It got double-figures from all five starters to best a Louisville team that had dealt it one of two regular-season losses.
That defeat, coupled with a loss to Baylor – UConn’s first in the regular season in over five years, since November 2014 – knocked the Huskies off the top seed line two weeks ago. And through three rounds, the selection committee looked smart. No. 10 seed Buffalo hung with the Huskies. Sixth-seeded UCLA tested them in the Sweet 16.
But UConn, which hadn’t lost in the Elite Eight since 2007, was not going to lose Sunday. It hit 14 of its 26 3-pointers. It almost blew an 11-point lead in the final two minutes, with Louisville forcing a few turnovers and slashing that lead to two.
But the Huskies held on. They’re off to Tampa. They’ll await the winner of No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 2 seed Stanford. And they’ll attempt to cap off a peerless quarter-century of dominance with their 12th national title in 25 years.
UConn’s quarter-century of dominance
Since winning its first national championship in 1995, UConn has only failed to make the Final Four six times. Here’s a chronological look at their run:
1996: Final Four
1997: Elite Eight
1998: Elite Eight
1999: Sweet 16
2001: Final Four
2005: Sweet 16
2006: Elite Eight
2007: Elite Eight
2008: Final Four
2011: Final Four
2012: Final Four
2017: Final Four
2018: Final Four
2019: Advanced to Final Four with win over Louisville
The Huskies have been upset in national semifinals two years in a row. Notre Dame and Arike Ogunbowale, the cause of their downfall last year, could be their Final Four opponent again. This year, they might not even be favored.
But would you really doubt Geno Auriemma and UConn on the big stage? The streak, and everything about the past 25 years, suggest that would be unwise.
More from Yahoo Sports: