UConn

UConn completes 40-0 season, wins Geno Auriemma’s ninth National Title

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One night after Shabazz Napier led the men to a second title in four years, the women completed a 40-0 season and repeated as champions with a 79-58 win over previously unbeaten Notre Dame. It’s the ninth National Title, in nine tries, for head coach Geno Auriemma.

It is the fifth time UConn went undefeated under Auriemma.

For the second time in school history, the UConn men’s and women’s basketball team claimed the national championships in the same season. The first time that feat was accomplished was a decade ago in 2004.

Stefanie Dolson recorded a double-double in her final collegiate game with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Brianna Stewart had a team-high 21 points and nine boards. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 points for UConn. Kayla McBride ended her career at Notre Dame with 21 points and five rebounds.

Like the men against Kentucky, the women got out to a hot start, opening up a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game. While the Huskies pounded the ball inside, especially with the absence of Notre Dame senior forward Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame was able to string together five 3-pointers in the last seven minutes of the half to cut the halftime deficit to 45-38.

MORE: UConn wins fourth national title 

In the second half the size advantage began to take its toll on the Fighting Irish. UConn outrebounded Notre Dame by 23, recording as many offensive rebounds as the Irish had defensive rebounds.

As impressive as the scoring prowess of  Dolson, Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis was, the Huskies defense shined on Tuesday night in Nashville. The Fighting Irish were limited to just 35 percent shooting from the field. The 58 points Notre Dame scored was the most the UConn defense allowed in the NCAA tournament.

Muffett McGraw’s Fighting Irish finished 37-1.

UConn is currently riding a 46-game winning streak with Stewart, the AP Player of the Year, and Mosqueda-Lewis returning to Storrs next fall.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.