The University of Connecticut won its second straight women’s national championship and ninth overall, beating the University of Notre Dame 79-58 in college basketball’s first title-game matchup of undefeated teams.
One night after Connecticut’s men won their second national championship in four years, the Huskies defeated the Fighting Irish at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, last night to complete a perfect season with a 40-0 record. Notre Dame lost for the first time this season, falling to 37-1.
Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Stefanie Dolson had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Connecticut, which started the game with a 22-8 run and led by at least five points the rest of the contest. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 points for Connecticut, and Bria Hartley had 13.
“I’m probably one of the luckiest people in the coaching profession, because I get to coach people like Stefanie and Bria,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said in a televised interview.
The game marked the first time either the men’s or women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship game featured two undefeated teams.
With the win, Auriemma surpassed Tennessee’s Pat Summitt for the most coaching championships in women’s college basketball. He’s one shy of John Wooden’s record of 10 titles while coaching the men’s team at UCLA.
Under Auriemma, Connecticut last repeated as national champion in 2009 and 2010. The Storrs, Connecticut, school also won championships three straight years from 2002-04.
Kayla McBride scored 21 points to lead the Irish, who were outrebounded 54-31.
“They just overpowered us, they killed us inside,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said in a news conference. “Their bigs were just too much for us. I thought we were overmatched in the post.”
Notre Dame, the South Bend, Indiana-based school that won its only national title in 2001, this season moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Connecticut moved to the American Athletic Conference. The schools played each other 12 times in the previous three seasons as members of the Big East Conference. Notre Dame beat Connecticut three times during the 2012-13 campaign before falling to the Huskies in the national semifinals.
The Connecticut men beat Kentucky 60-54 two nights ago, capping a run of tournament upsets and overcoming 100-1 odds to win the title while seeded seventh in their region.
The women’s victory marks the second time both Huskies basketball teams won national titles in the same year, having also accomplished the feat in 2004. In the 20 years since the Connecticut women won their first championship in 1995, at least one Huskies team has taken the national title in 11 different years.
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