The University of Connecticut secured its record-tying eighth women’s college basketball championship with a 93-60 rout of the University of Louisville, the largest margin of victory in a title game.
Freshman Breanna Stewart scored 23 points and had nine rebounds last night to lead the Huskies, who matched the University of Tennessee for the most titles in women’s college basketball history. Connecticut is 8-0 in the title game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, with all eight championships coming under coach Geno Auriemma. Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt also won eight titles.
“The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record, that puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach that’s ever lived,” Auriemma said in a televised interview. “I’m thrilled for this group of girls and these seniors.”
UConn’s 33-point rout surpassed Tennessee’s 23-point win over Louisiana Tech in 1987 as the largest winning margin in the 32-year history of the women’s NCAA championship game. The Huskies’ biggest previous margin of victory in a title game was 22 points in 2009, a 76-54 win over Louisville.
Connecticut last night raced to a 48-29 halftime lead against a Louisville team that had eliminated defending champion Baylor in the round of 16 as a No. 5 regional seed before beating Tennessee and California to reach the title game. Louisville’s men two days ago won their third national title and first since 1986 by beating Michigan in Atlanta.
While the 6-foot-4 Stewart became the fourth freshman to be named the Most Outstanding Player, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 18 points and nine rebounds, and senior Kelly Faris added 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
UConn won its six tournament games by an average of 23.7 points, including an 83-65 rout of Notre Dame in the national semifinals two days ago. The Huskies had been beaten by Notre Dame at the Final Four each of the previous two years and lost to the Fighting Irish three times during the regular season, including in the Big East Conference tournament last month.
“Our players just collectively decided to give up a little of themselves,” Auriemma said. “Before that, we were a team of good players, but right after that we became a great team. It was an amazing transformation.”
Connecticut now has eight titles in 19 years, having also won the NCAA tournament in 1995, 2000, 2002-04 and 2009-10.
The Huskies have the highest NCAA tournament winning percentage in women’s college basketball history, with an overall 91-17 record. All of those victories have come under Auriemma, who’s been at the school in Storrs, Connecticut, since 1985. Only Summitt has more women’s tournament wins, with 112.
UConn is now 13-1 against Louisville, with its only loss coming in the first round of the 1993 NCAA tournament.
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