NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Geno Auriemma and Connecticut stand alone in
women's college basketball, and they reached the top in unprecedented
The Huskies routed Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday night in the first
championship game featuring undefeated teams, winning their record ninth
national title. Auriemma broke a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for
most all-time, doing it in her backyard.
Breanna Stewart, who was the AP's player of the year, scored 21
points to lead the Huskies (40-0) while Stefanie Dolson added 17 points,
16 rebounds and seven assists. Auriemma took out his senior center with
a minute left and the pair embraced in a long hug.
The victory also means that UConn is now the center of the college
basketball world with both the men's and women's teams winning the
championship in the same year again. The men's team beat Kentucky in the
title game Monday night. This pair of victories come a decade after the
Huskies became the only school to accomplish the feat.
While the names change at UConn, from Rebecca Lobo to Diana Taurasi,
Maya Moore and now Stewart, Auriemma has been the constant, winning nine
titles in only 20 seasons -- including the last two. He's never lost in
a national championship game.
"Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA
National Championship!," Summitt said in a statement emailed to The
Associated Press. "My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for
winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in
It was the fifth unbeaten season for Auriemma and UConn and the first
time the Huskies went 40-0 -- matching Baylor as the only schools to
accomplish that feat. The victory was also Connecticut's 46th straight
dating back to last season's NCAA tournament title run. It's the third
longest streak in school history -- well short of the NCAA record 90
straight they won.
The loss was Notre Dame's third in the title game in the past four
years. Kayla McBride finished off her stellar career with 21 points to
lead the Irish, who were looking for their first championship since
After proving to be no challenge for the Huskies during the first 15
years of the rivalry which began in 1995, Notre Dame had owned the
series lately, winning seven of the previous nine meetings. UConn though
has won the last two, eliminating Notre Dame in the Final Four last
season before topping them in the championship game this year.
The two former Big East rivals, who have no love lost for each other,
put on a show in a game that women's basketball hoped could transcend
the sport. The coaches added to the drama of the game with their verbal
sparring on Monday. But it was Auriemma who got the last word again.
Even with the loss, it was a record-setting season for the Irish.
Notre Dame lost Skylar Diggins to graduation and changed conferences
to the ACC. Neither mattered as they ran through their opponents,
winning by an average of 25.6 points while taking both the conference
regular season and tournament championships.
The Irish lost senior Natalie Achonwa to a torn ACL in the regional
final win over Baylor. Notre Dame wore warmup shirts with Achonwa's
nickname "Ace" below her No. 11.
The team played inspired basketball in the Final Four win over
Maryland, outrebounding the Terps by a record margin. The Irish couldn't
muster a similar effort against UConn and it's gigantic front line.
Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes dominated the interior. The
Huskies outrebounded the Irish 54-31 and held them to a season-low in
After the teams traded shots early on, Stewart fueled a 16-0 run as
the Huskies, who have played stellar defense all season, held the Irish
without a point for nearly five minutes. Stewart's lay-in with 11:02
left made it 22-8.
A minute later, Dolson had an acrobatic tip to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for another layup.
The Irish stayed in the first half by hot 3-point shooting by
Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd. Trailing 37-25 with 4:09 left in the
first half, the pair sparked a 13-6 run, hitting three 3-pointers which
brought the Irish faithful to their feet.
UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.
The Huskies closed the door on any Irish comeback scoring 18 of the
first 22 points in the second half to put the game away. Stewart and
Dolson had 10 points during the burst.