NEW ORLEANS (Sports Network) – Move over, Pat Summitt and Tennessee, you have company.
Connecticut put an end to Louisville’s unlikely run in the women’s NCAA Tournament with a 93-60 drubbing at New Orleans Arena for the program’s eighth national championship under head coach Geno Auriemma, matching the record held by Summitt and the Lady Vols.
Freshman Breanna Stewart finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made five of UConn’s 13 baskets from 3-point range en route to an 18-point effort.
The Huskies reached their eighth final by solving Notre Dame in the Final Four after losing to their Big East rival three times this season.
Another conference foe stood in the way Tuesday, and Connecticut (35-4) came away with a convincing triumph to deny Louisville its first title and a chance at winning both the men’s and women’s championships in the same year.
Connecticut is still the only school that has accomplished that feat, doing so in 2004.
The Cardinals (29-9) had a memorable performance in the Oklahoma City Regional as a No. 5 seed, as they upset defending champion Baylor in the Sweet 16 before besting perennial power Tennessee to earn a trip to New Orleans.
They rallied against California in the national semis, but were simply no match against the Huskies, who shot 53 percent from the floor and had five players score in double figures.
Sara Hammond paced Louisville with 15 points.
“It’s without a doubt going to go down as one of the greatest runs in women’s basketball,” Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz said. “We’re going to hold our heads high and we’re going to be proud of what we did.”
Stewart showed her inside and outside game during a 19-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 29-14 lead with under nine minutes left in the opening half. She hit a 3-pointer while being fouled during the surge, and after missing the ensuing free throw, the frosh drained a mid-range jumper and scored inside on the next two possessions.
“This is unbelievable. This is what we’ve thought about since the beginning of the season. And now to be here and actually win it, it’s a great feeling and I don’t think it’s going to set in for a while.” said Stewart, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
UConn led by a 48-29 score at halftime behind Stewart’s 18 points, as well as a 16-5 advantage in second-chance points, and was never seriously threatened in the second half en route to the largest margin of victory in title game history.
Connecticut has won 13 in a row against Louisville, with its only loss to the Cardinals coming in the first meeting in the opening round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament. The programs also met in the 2009 NCAA finals.
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