UConn women defeat Louisville, tie Tennessee for most national titles
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08
NEW ORLEANS – The UConn women’s basketball team captured their eighth NCAA National Championship in a dominating 93-60 victory over the Louisville Cardinals, which was fueled by the consistent performance of one of the youngest Huskies on the team.
The Huskies are now 8-0 in NCAA National Championship games and have tied Tennessee for the most all-time.
Freshman Breanna Stewart ended her first year at UConn by leading her team to the pinnacle of women’s college basketball. Stewart led her team in points for the fourth straight NCAA Tournament game; she finished the night with 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists, steals and blocks respectively.
After the game, Stewart was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She is the first freshman to receive this honor since 1987.
“It was really exciting,” Stewart said. “I mean I didn’t really know what to expect but obviously as the clock was winding down we knew that we were going to win the National Championship and I was just trying to figure out who the first person that I was going to hug was going to be.”
The Huskies came out strong on the first half with only one minor hiccup on offense. At the 16:29 mark, UConn guard Caroline Doty was charged with a flagrant foul after elbowing Louisville guard Bria Smith.
UConn trailed Louisville 9-7 at the under 16 minute mark but the Huskies fought hard and tied the game at 14 after a key steal and layup by junior Bria Hartley. What followed next was what the Cardinals needed to avoid in order to hang close with the Huskies.
Sophomore guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis hit a jumper at the 11:58 mark of the first half which sparked a dominating 19-0 for UConn.
UConn also managed to effectively shut down Louisville from three-point range, which was the Cardinals key to victory in their upset over the overall No. 1 seeded Baylor Bears. The Cardinals only shot 2-9 from behind the arc in the first half and 5-23 for the entire game.
Louisville guard Shoni Schimmel, who went 1-8 from three-point range said that by playing a conference opponent like UConn, the opposition knew how to stifle the Cardinal’s offense.
“Playing in the Big East you kind of know each other and so they kind of had an idea,” said Schimmel. “We’ve already played before, so they knew what to do to stop us and that kind of limited my touches…We just came up short and you can’t really ask much of anything because we gave it all we had.”
At the end of the first half the Huskies were dominating the Cardinals in just about every category on the stat sheet; including the scoreboard, as UConn took a 48-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Things only improved in the second half for UConn, as the Huskies came out with the same scoring ability which carried them through the first half. UConn shot 63 percent from the field in the second half and 53 percent for the entire game.
Louisville tried to keep their national title aspirations alive after they hit two straight three-pointers at the 12:59 mark of the second half, however the Huskies played shutdown defense which ensured the victory in favor of UConn.
The Huskies finished the night with five players in double figures. Mosqueda-Lewis who scored 18 total points went made five three-pointers in the victory. UConn senior Kelly Faris tallied 16 points in her final game a Husky. Hartley quietly had a 13 point performance in her first National Championship game for UConn.
UConn’s eight title is also the eight for head coach Geno Auriemma, which ties him legendary Tennessee head coach Pat Summit for the most championships. Auriemma felt that his team was mentally prepared to bring another championship home to Storrs.
“I really believe that coaches lose more championships than they win,” said Auriemma. “You don’t have your team ready for whatever reason, mentally usually. And I’ve been in the Final Four a couple of times when we lost where mentally we weren’t right, but we’ve never been in a championship game where we weren’t right. All eight times that we won a National Championship I felt that my team was mentally ready to win a championship. I think that’s something that I’m really proud of.”