UConn wins it's second naitonal championship in two days
The UConn Huskies took home their ninth national championship Tuesday night to go along with the fourth championship by the men. The UConn basketball program had their second dual championship season since 2004. JESS CONDON/THE DAILY CAMPUS
NASHVILLE - It had come down to this. The moment the UConn women's basketball had been waiting for: two undefeated heavyweight teams finally squared off in the national championship game. As the team took on Notre Dame, one of the two would lose for the first time this season. Tensions were through the roof, as the two teams faced the toughest opponent they have had all season. This rivalry was at full force and ready to explode, however UConn dominated Notre Dame 79-58 to take home its ninth national championship.
The matchup between UConn (40-0) and Notre Dame (37-1) was the first time in NCAA Women's Basketball Championship (Divisions I, II and III) history that two undefeated teams have met for the national championship. However, UConn made it look like Notre Dame was any other opponent as they defeated the Irish by a 21-point margin.
No slow start tonight
UConn started off strong and never looked back. The slow start in the past three games was a thing of the past as they went on a 14-0 run to keep Notre Dame at eight points for over four minutes. Although the Fighting Irish were able to break that scoring drought, the Huskies kept them at an arm's length.
"We beat a great, great, great team tonight... Notre Dame is a great team," head coach Geno Auriemma said. "For them to have that kind of season they had and for them to lose their starting center, come here and do what they did. I just can't say enough about their players and coaching staff, and it took everything we had."
Notre Dame suffered its largest deficit (21) during the final game. Leading up to the championship game, the Irish's largest deficit was 12 points against Tennessee, however they managed to come back and defeat the Lady Vols 86-70.
Hartley fights through fouls
Bria Hartley picked up two quick fouls in the first half and a third one in the second half, but managed to finish strong with 13 points and two rebounds. Hartley has fouled out a mere three games in her UConn career, however all three games were against Notre Dame.
"I think as a basketball player you have to be able to play with fouls sometimes, you can't really control that all the time," Hartley said. "There have been times where I've been in foul trouble and I've had (to play through it). I just kind of kept my composure and knew my teammates were depending on me to play really well for them so I went out there and didn't let them down."
Stefanie Dolson also has had previous trouble with fouls against the Irish, as she fouled out one of the last three times they faced each other. However, Dolson's was on fire in her last career game as a Husky. Dolson racked up 17 points, seven assists and 16 rebounds and gained her 14th double-double of the season.
Out with a bang
UConn left it all on the court as they took home their ninth national championship. Each player contributed, which allowed the Huskies to thrive against their biggest opponent of the season. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson racked up a combined 56 of UConn's 79 points.
"There isn't much that you can say when you have a performance like that where your players are just really locked in to what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it," Auriemma said. "It was an incredible effort by the whole team especially (Stewart, Dolson and Mosqueda-Lewis)... I couldn't be more proud of a group of players than I am right now."
UConn's backcourt also held Notre Dame to 35.5 percent shooting, which led to frustration and errors for the Irish later in the second half. Throughout the season Notre Dame led the country in shooting at 51 percent, however the Huskies were able to contain them when it counted.
"No matter what the score is we wanted to win the game. The fact that we won by such a big margin separates the two teams," Stewart said. "That was a lot of questions two unbeaten teams stuff like that and I think that we wanted to make it a point that we are different than everyone else in the country."
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