In the first ever national championship between two unbeatens (men or women), the game wasn’t really close. The Connecticut Huskies (40-0) outscored the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 18-4 in the first 10 minutes of the second half and cruised to a 79-58 victory on April 8, in Nashville, Tenn.
The victory gives UConn a NCAA record ninth national tile and it also marks the fifth time the Huskies have finished a season undefeated – Overall, eight women’s teams have finished the season with a perfect record. The Huskies are also the second team in women’s college basketball to end a season 40-0 , joining Baylor in 2012.
With the Huskies 60-56 win over Kentucky in the men’s national title game on April 7, the women’s victory gives UConn their second double basketball title. The Huskies became the first school to reod the rare double when they accomplished the feat in 2004.
Breanna Stewart, who was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year, scored 14 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, where the Huskies built an early 22-8 lead. The 14-point first half deficit the Fighting Irish trailed by were the largest deficit they faced this season
Stewart scored 10 of UConn’s first 22 points with three buckets coming on layups. She made 7-of-10 shots in the half. Stefanie Dolson, who had an outstanding overall game, also tallied 14 first half points as UConn led 45-38 at halftime. 32 of the 45 points that the Huskies, scored came in the paint – UConn hot 56.8 percent from the floor in the half.
Connecticut continued their dominance of the paint early in the second half as six of the Huskies first seventh buckets were layups as they pushed their lead to 20 (62-42) with 13:06 to go. UConn was never challenged from there.
Dolson, in her final collegiate game, fell three assists shy of posting the first triple-double in the National Championship game. She finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots. Fellow senior Bria Hartley also reached double-figures with 13 points while Kaleena Moqueda-Lewis added 18 points.
Kayla McBride, who was tremendous versus Maryland in the Final Four, led Notre Dame with 21 points. Jewell Loyd added 13 and Michaela Mabrey contributed 10 points for the Fighting Irish, who were playing without senior Natalie Achonwa (torn ACL) for the second straight game.
Notes: UConn is now 9-0 in NCAA title games. Geno Auriemma surpassed former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt for most titles by a women’s basketball coach tonight (nine). The Huskies won back-to-back titles for the third time. UConn now has won 46 straight games, which marks the third longest streak in program history.