Women's Basketball: UConn, Louisville to meet for AAC title Monday night
UConn center Stefanie Dolson goes to the bucket against Rutgers Sunday afternoon. Dolson and the Huskies beat the Scarlet Knights to set up a date with Louisville in the AAC final. JON KULAKOFSKY/The Daily Campus
UNCASVILLE - It was a fitting end to a conference rivalry that was rarely close and never all that contentious in its most recent years.
Top-seeded UConn (33-0) skated to a 83-57 win Sunday in the final matchup before No. 4 Rutgers (22-9) exits for the Big Ten Sunday afternoon to book its place in the American Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament final.
"We've traditionally done pretty well in tournaments," Auriemma said of the inaugural AAC Tournament. "And it's appropriate, I think, that we're in the finals."
Though both Geno Auriemma and C. Vivian Stringer have stated their intentions to keep playing one another despite the conference shakeup, the series-at least as a conference rivalry-temporarily ended the same way as most of the previous 39 games between the two programs.
The Huskies lead the all-time series 33-6 and have won 13 straight against the Scarlet Knights dating back to March 3, 2008. In fact, nearly all of UConn's six losses came during a three-year stretch-from Feb. 13, 2005 to Feb. 5, 2008-in which Rutgers won five of eight games. Outside of that period, when the programs consistently battled for conference championships, the rivalry has been rather toothless; the Huskies only other loss came in 1998.
UConn's win in the latest edition was fueled by a hot performance from behind the arc. The Huskies hit nine of 13 3-point shots in the first half, including their first five of the game, to grab a large early lead.
Meanwhile, Rutgers went long spells where it looked as though the hoop had a lid-they shot just 28 percent and all but seven of their points in the first half came from inside the paint.
Within seven minutes, UConn grabbed its first 20-point lead and held a 50-19 edge at the half.
"That entire first 20 minutes was probably about as good of basketball as I can hope for, especially in the postseason," Auriemma said.
The torrid scoring pace did slow substantially after the break, however, and the Scarlet Knights actually won the second half. The reduced UConn production was due in part to the struggles of their bench, which failed to score until there was 4:04 left in the game and managed only five points.
On the other hand, the starters all had stand-out days.
Breanna Stewart scored a game-high 22 points for the second straight day. The sophomore forward also recorded her 100th assist of the season in the first half; she recorded just 35 assists during her freshman campaign.
"I think it's kind of helped her get her game to a different level," Stefanie Dolson said. "Last year she might have just shot the ball and rebounded and that was it, but now she's getting other people open, she's getting the passes to them. It just makes her a more all-around player."
Rutgers was led by Briyona Canty's 16 points.
The Huskies will face No. 2 seed Louisville for a chance at their 19th conference tournament title Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. UConn won both regular season meetings by a combined 37 points.
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