NASHVILLE – One school, two teams, two titles. That is UConn in a nutshell.
24 hours after the UConn men’s team completed one of the most improable March Madness runs in a 60-54 win over the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, the Lady Huskies completed their pursuit of perfection in vanquishing and old nemesis from their Big East days, Notre Dame, 79-58 down in Nashville.
In claiming their ninth women’s national title—the most all-time in women’s hoops—surpassing another old adversary in Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Volunteers, Geno Auriemma and his long-time men’s counterpart, Jim Calhoun and his now-current successor, Kevin Ollie, have helped solidify the tiny school’s place—located in northeastern section of the Nutmeg state—as the undisputed kings and queens of the modern-day hardwood.
In completing their second sweep of the men’s and women’s hoops—ten years apart—both programs improved to an impressive 13-0 in title games. For Auriemma, this win is the fifth time (1995, 2002, 2009, 2010 and 2014) that he has led a team to a perfect season.
In finishing at 40-0, it equals the impressive Brittany Griner-led Baylor undefeated squad in 2012, but this is UConn, and their way is very unique, as it is both methodical, gritty and team-oriented.
In the truest of Lady Huskie fashion, senior UConn center Stefanie Dolson scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting, grabbed 16 rebounds, has seven assists and three blocks and guard Breanna Stewart scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field—including the Lady Huskies’ first 14.
While not as flashy and as dramatic as Shebazz Napier’s 22-point performance Monday, Dolson, Stewart and the Lady Huskies did work and dominated an over-matched Lady Irish team on the block Tuesday night.
An added bonus for the Lady Huskies was beating a team that seemed to have their number in Notre Dame—whom defeated them in three of their last four meetings, all in the Final Four—a little added incentive had to be securing perfection at the cost of Auriemma’s icy and bitter rival in Irish head coach, Muffett McGraw.
What also shouldn’t be lost is that the newly formed American Athletic Conference in one year scored a BCS upset win in the Fiesta Bowl, a men’s national tile in hoops and now a women’s title. Based on their first year, the AAC is in good hands, with UConn being one of their strongest anchors.
While not in the biggest of states in terms of size, thanks to the many great players that have help bring home a combined 13 titles in Rip Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Kemba Walker, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Rebecca Lobo and the newly crowned Stewart, Dolson and Napier now among their ranks, the Huskies will not only always be hungry, but also be well-fed in the form of championships.
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