2014 NCAA Women’s Tournament

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.

UConn’s Breanna Stewart wins AP National Player of the Year

Oscar Dixon,Breanna Stewart
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For the first time since 2011, a UConn women’s basketball player was named Associated Press National Player of the Year when it was announced on Saturday that sophomore forward Breanna Stewart took home the yearly honors.

She is the first Husky to be named player of the year since Maya Moore, who also won the award in 2009, but in 2010 the honor went to teammate Tina Charles. Baylor center Brittney Griner won the award in back-to-back years since the UConn three-peat.

“It’s a great reflection of our program and the University of Connecticut,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said according to the Hartford Courant. “Mostly it’s the hard work Stewie has put into the game, how much she has improved from last year. You could make a case for Chiney [Ogwumike of Stanford]. You could make a case for [Baylor’s] Odyssey Sims.

“But in the end, it’s hard to find somebody who’s had the type of season Stewie’s had all-around. And she’s so young. So much pressure on her, given what she did at the Final Four last year. It’s not easy for her.”

Stewart is averaging 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for undefeated UConn.

Despite losing Skylar Diggins to graduation, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to a perfect season so far. She was presented with the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award on Saturday.

UConn and Notre Dame enter Nashville with unblemished records. One could end with a perfect season while Maryland and Stanford look to pull upsets.

The women’s Final Four tips Sunday night with Maryland-Notre Dame beginning at 6:30 p.m. followed by Stanford-UConn at 9 p.m.

UConn, Notre Dame remain undefeated, advance to Elite Eight

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NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket

The women’s NCAA tournament features two teams expected by many to play for the national title on Tuesday, April 8. in No. 1 UConn and No. 1 Notre Dame. They’ve been the two best teams in the country all season long, and it’ll take an exemplary effort to keep either team from reaching the game’s biggest night in Nashville. Saturday both teams took another step towards their goal of winning a national title, advancing to the Elite Eight with double-digit victories.

Geno Auriemma’s Huskies, the top overall seed, struggled with No. 12 BYU in a Lincoln Region semifinal and led the Cougars by just one point at the half. Whatever Auriemma said to his players in the locker room had an effect, as UConn limited BYU to 31% shooting in the second half of their 70-51 victory.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, leading four double-digit scorers, and UConn turned 20 offensive rebounds into 27 second-chance points (18-point advantage). Kim Beeston scored 16 points and Morgan Bailey added 14 for BYU, which beat No. 5 NC State and No. 4 Nebraska last weekend to reach this point. Next up for 37-0 UConn is No. 3 Texas A&M, as the Aggies limited No. 7 DePaul to 24 first-half points in their 84-65 victory over the Blue Demons. Courtney Walker paced the Aggies with 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

As for Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw’s Fighting Irish built up a 14-point halftime lead and that proved to be the cushion they needed in an 89-72 win over No. 5 Oklahoma State. Natalie Achonwa accounted for 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five blocks to lead the way, with Jewell Loyd adding 20 points and 12 rebounds and Kayla McBride 18 points for the 35-0 ACC champions.

Next up for Notre Dame is the South Bend regional final against No. 2 Baylor, which is also the last team to beat the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion. Job one for Notre Dame on Monday night will be to slow down high-scoring guard Odyssey Sims, who led the Lady Bears to a 90-72 win over No. 3 Kentucky with 25 points and seven assists. Sims has now scored 1,021 points this season, becoming the second woman in Division I history to score 1,000 points in a single season (Jackie Stiles was the first in 2001).

Not to be overlooked in Baylor’s win is the play of Nina Davis, who added 2o points and eight rebounds. Kentucky shot just 34.8% from the field and guard Jennifer O’Neill, who leads the team in scoring with an average of 12.6 points per game, missed all 12 of her shots and scored all eight of her points at the foul line. And in a glance at Monday’s game in South Bend, Baylor is 4-0 all-time against Notre Dame with their last win coming on December 5, 2012, and the Fighting Irish have won 27 straight home games since.

Sweet 16 is set in the 2014 Women’s NCAA Tournament, UConn remains undefeated

Geno Auriemma
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NCAA Women’s Tournament bracket

The women’s Sweet 16 was set on Tuesday night, and with one surprise occurring on Monday night.

Top-seeded UConn improved to 36-0 with lopsided win over No. 9 Saint Joseph’s. Brenna Stewart posted 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The unbeaten Huskies head to Lincoln to face Cinderella BYU, the No. 12 seed, which pulled off one of two upsets on Monday.

The only game that didn’t go to form was in the Louisville bracket. LSU, the No. 7 seed, eliminated No. 2 seed West Virginia, 76-67. It is the second night in a row a No. 2 seed has gone down, after DePaul knocked off Duke inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. For LSU, it was a dominant display on the glass. The Tigers grabbed an astonishing 55 boards, 15 more than West Virginia. The Tigers had four starters grab at least seven rebounds with Danielle Ballard leading the way with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

The rest of Tuesday night’s games when according to plan:

Louisville

No. 3 Louisville 83, No. 6 Iowa 53

No. 4 Maryland 69, No. 5 Texas 64

Stanford

No. 1 South Carolina 78, No. 9 Oregon State 69

No. 3 Penn State 81, No. 11 Florida 61

No. 4 North Carolina 62, No. 5 Michigan State 53

Lincoln

Texas A&M 85, No. 11 James Madison 69

Upsets highlight Monday’s women’s tourney action while unbeaten Notre Dame advances

Brittany Hrynko, Ka'Lia Johnson
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NCAA Women’s Tournament bracket

Second-round action of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Tournament continued on Monday night as the evening was highlighted by two big upset wins heading into the Sweet 16.

The biggest upset of the night belonged to No. 7 seed DePaul as the Blue Demons knocked off No. 2 seed Duke, 74-65, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. DePaul hit a season-high 14 three-pointers — seven of which came after Duke field goals — as the Blue Devils (28-7) became the first No. 2 seed to lose this early in the tournament since 2011. The Blue Demons (29-6) were led by Megan Rogowski’s 22 points as DePaul has won 18 of its last 19 games.

DePaul moves on to Lincoln for its Sweet 16 game on Saturday against the winner of Texas A&M and James Madison.

The other big upset of the night came courtesy of No. 12 seed BYU, as they toppled No. 4 seed Nebraska, 80-76. Morgan Bailey scored a career-high 18 points and Jennifer Hamson added 15 points and 14 rebounds as the Cougars (28-6) advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 2002. The loss for Nebraska (26-7) means they won’t get to play on its home floor for a potential Sweet 16 game against unbeaten No. 1 seed UConn, who still needs to beat St. Joseph’s tomorrow night to advance.

Unbeaten No. 1 seed Notre Dame moved to 34-0 on the season with an 84-67 win over No. 9 seed Arizona State (23-10). Natalie Achonwa finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Irish moved on to its 12th Sweet 16 appearance in the last 18 years. Notre Dame is the host for the next two rounds, so the Irish will potentially have two home games as they attempt to advance to their fourth consecutive Final Four.

Also moving on was No. 1 seed Tennessee with a 67-51 win over No. 8 seed St. John’s (23-11). Cierra Burdick had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols (29-5) as they advance to Louisville for its next game on Sunday.

A pair of No. 2 seeds — Baylor and Stanford — both advanced as well on Monday as Baylor (31-4) defeated No. 7 seed Cal, 75-56, behind senior Odyssey Sims’ 27 points. The Cardinal (31-3) cruised to a 63-44 win over No. 10 Florida State behind a 30-2 run.

No. 3 seed Kentucky (26-8) survived a scare from No. 6 seed Syracuse in Lexington as the Wildcats won 64-59 to move on to face No. 2 seed Baylor while No. 5 seed Oklahoma State (25-8) held off No. 4 seed Purdue with a 73-66 victory as the Cowgirls get a crack at No. 1 seed Notre Dame on its home floor.