UConn women make it a clean sweep at Storrs with a 79-58 win over Notre Dame.
STORRS: Call it the basketball capital of the United States, ladies and gentlemen.
Little Storrs, Connecticut, home to the University of Connecticut men and women’s basketball teams, is Title Town USA for the second time in a decade in both camps.
A night after the men got by Kentucky, 60-54, the women culminated a tremendous 40-0 campaign with an absolutely dominant 79-58 win over previously undefeated Notre Dame.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma passed the great Pat Summit by winning his ninth National Championships in as many tries. Add that to the perfect 4-0 mark the men have on the biggest stage and you understand how rare what we saw this year in Storrs has been.
It also marks the second time both teams have ruled college basketball in the same season, they did it back in 2004 as well.
Pretty rarified air indeed.
Forget the pre-game chatter about the teams not liking each other or the ‘civility’ being gone from the rivalry.
When the five All-World starters for Auriemma take the floor against your team, civility is the least of your concerns.
Connecticut used an overwhelming inside game to outscore the Irish (37-1) by a 52-22 margin, thanks largely to the play of Breana Stewart (21 points) and Stefanie Dolson (17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists).
Stewart, fresh off her Naismith Trophy win on Monday, was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player for the second year in a row.
The Huskies dominated on the boards to the tune of 54-31 and turned up the defensive pressure in the second half after going to the half up seven at 45-38.
Notre Dame simply had no answers for the five offensive threats the Huskies presented although after getting behind by a 22-8 score half way through the first half, did make a run by nailing five three pointers over the next 10 minutes.
Kayla McBride, who led the Irish with 21 points, had led her team to their semi-final win over Maryland on Saturday with 26 points but needed more help on the offensive side but more importantly on the defensive side.
Notre Dame stayed in this one for 20-minutes by hitting on five of eight long balls but the UConn defensive stiffened in the second half and allowed just one that came with the game well past decided.
The Huskies blasted off on an 18-4 run to start the second half and number nine was in the books.
An astounding accomplishment indeed, by both teams.
As improbable as the men’s win might have been, the women faced the added pressure of being ranked number one all season while running the table in the regular season, sweeping through the AAC Tournament and rolling to number nine.
A loss for the women would have meant a disappointing season, that’s the standard Auriemma and his staff have put in place.
With just over a minute left, Dolson, a senior who brought a smile to every game and an unmatched work ethic, game out and embraced her coach for the last time after a game.
The two held on and tears were visible on both, it has been a special relationship for both of them and it showed.
Bria Hartley, the other senior, also shed some tears as she exited for the last time and hugged her head coach.
Auriemma was visibly choked up during post-game interviews when he was asked about the two seniors, they have been that important to his program.
Dolson has worked herself into one of the best inside players in the country over the past two seasons and Hartley made great strides after a rocky junior year.
An incredible two nights for the University of Connecticut.
Most schools would be thrilled to have one national championship, regardless of which team got it.
In Connecticut, they like to have both.
One huge parade for both upcoming over the next week or so.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
For us at Litchfield County Sports, what a year to start covering both teams.
Thanks for two remarkable rides.