UConn head coach Geno Auriemma has been to 10 national championship games with each of those contests ending with the him cutting down the nets.
On Tuesday night, the UConn women’s basketball team completed its second three-peat in program history, defeating Auriemma’s rival Muffet McGraw and Notre Dame, 63-53, at the Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida.
Auriemma’s 10th national title ties him with the late John Wooden for the most championships in college basketball history.
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The Huskies (38-1) trailed the Fighting Irish (36-3) for fewer than three minutes, early in the first half.
However, Notre Dame kept it interesting. The Fighting Irish turned a 12-point deficit to a two-possession game on several occasion, the final threat coming with 5:30 left, trailing UConn 56-50. UConn senior guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis responded with fie straight points, upping the lead to 61-50 with 4:58 remaining.
UConn was 6-of-11 from three in the second half and 8-for-23 on the evening.
Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson led the Huskies with 15 points each. Breanna Stewart, the National Player of the Year, ended with eight points and 15 rebounds, missing part of the first half after rolling her ankle. Stewart, who was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player for an unprecedented third time. The junior forward is 18-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Brianna Turner had a team-high 14 points for the national runner-up.
During UConn’s three straight titles, the Huskies are 113-5.
After finishing 40-0 and winning a national championship last season, the UConn women’s basketball program won’t be unbeaten in 2014-15. The No. 1 Huskies fell in an overtime thriller on Monday night, dropping an 88-86 contest on the road against No. 6 Stanford.
Women’s basketball doesn’t usually draw this kind of national attention during the early portion of the season, but during the Tip-Off Marathon, the girls stole the show in the first few hours as UConn, the two-time defending national champions, had its 47-game win streak snapped with the loss. Stanford also ended UConn’s record-breaking, 90-game winning streak with a 71-59 home win late in December 2010.
Trailing 87-84 with 20 seconds remaining, UConn guard Saniya Chong (20 points) made a driving lay-up to cut the Cardinal lead to one with 2.6 seconds left. After Stanford guard Karlie Samuelson split a pair of free throws, UConn never got a shot off on the ensuing inbounds play.
Stanford guard Lili Thompson paced the Cardinal with 24 points in the win as Stanford became the first team to beat the UConn women since Notre Dame beat the Huskies for the Big East Conference Tournament title on March, 12, 2013.
Since that loss to Notre Dame, Geno Auriemma’s team captured two national championships and last season’s 40-0 record was the fifth perfect season for the Huskies during Auriemma’s storied career with the program.
UConn junior forward Breanna Stewart, the reigning national player of the year, finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
In her first two seasons at UConn, 6-foot-4 forward Breanna Stewart has developed into the best player in women’s college basketball. Two national titles, two Final Four Most Outstanding Player awards and multiple national Player of the Year honors as a sophomore provide convincing evidence of that fact. Those accomplishments resulted in Stewart being given a chance to earn a spot on the United States’ senior women’s national team, which is preparing for the FIBA World Championships for Women that begins September 27 in Turkey.
Sunday, USA Basketball revealed the 13 remaining finalists for the team, which is coached by UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, and Stewart was among the players on that list. Twelve of those players will participate in the team’s final exhibition against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, with Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner due to join the team in Turkey on Wednesday.
With that being the case, one of the 12 participants in the team’s final exhibition will be cut.
“We’ve been trying to put everything together while using 15 players and that’s not ideal,” Auriemma said in the release. “We haven’t been able to put enough time into one unit and get some kind of rotation down, and that’s all right. We’ve been trying to give everybody a fair chance to make the team and show what they can do.
“But we are down to 12 for the game in Prague, and that will tell us a lot more about what this team is. Then obviously we’ll have a couple of practices when we get to Istanbul that will be big as well. Slowly but surely we’re getting to where the team is, but it’s not been easy.”
The Americans have won three of their four exhibitions thus far, with the lone defeat being a 76-72 loss to France Sunday. In the four games Stewart has averaged 6.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, playing 12.5 minutes per contest off the bench. Being on this team requires a change of roles for the lone collegian on the roster, as Stewart serves as a supplementary piece on a team loaded with professional stars.
When Stewart returns to Storrs she’ll be the leader for a team expected to win a third consecutive national title in spite of the graduation of key seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley. The only question now is when she’ll be returning to campus: this week, or in early October once the World Championships have concluded.