Geno Auriemma and Connecticut stand alone in women’s college basketball, and they reached the top in unprecedented fashion.
The Huskies routed Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday night in the first championship game featuring undefeated teams, winning their record ninth national title. Auriemma broke a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for most all-time, doing it in her backyard.
Breanna Stewart, who was the AP’s player of the year, scored 21 points to lead the Huskies (40-0) while Stefanie Dolson added 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Auriemma took out his senior center with a minute left and the pair embraced in a long hug.
The victory also means that UConn is now the center of the college basketball world with both the men’s and women’s teams winning the championship in the same year again. The men’s team beat Kentucky in the title game Monday night. This pair of victories come a decade after the Huskies became the only school to accomplish the feat.
While the names change at UConn, from Rebecca Lobo to Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and now Stewart, Auriemma has been the constant, winning nine titles in only 20 seasons — including the last two. He’s never lost in a national championship game.
“Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA National Championship!,” Summitt said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in record time.”
It was the fifth unbeaten season for Auriemma and UConn and the first time the Huskies went 40-0 — matching Baylor as the only schools to accomplish that feat. The victory was also Connecticut’s 46th straight dating back to last season’s NCAA tournament title run. It’s the third longest streak in school history — well short of the NCAA record 90 straight they won.
The loss was Notre Dame’s third in the title game in the past four years. Kayla McBride finished off her stellar career with 21 points to lead the Irish, who were looking for their first championship since 2001.
UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.