UConn wins fourth straight championship: Game Rewind

National Championship

Huskies finish season undefeated with rout of Orange

UConn won their fourth-straight title on Tuesday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. They finished the season 38-0 and earned their 75th consecutive victory.

“It was a perfect ending,” forward Breanna Stewart said. “You know, I’m not sure what word you can use to describe it.”

Final Score:

No. 1 UConn 82, No. 4 Syracuse 51

Key Part of the Game:

After UConn lead at the half 50-23, Syracuse went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter, all while forcing UConn into five turnovers during that span. Guard/forward Napheesa Collier made a layup to stop the Orange’s run and get UConn back in the swing of things. Collier made another layup as the third quarter buzzer sounded, and the Huskies went into the final period up 64-43, where they wouldn’t look back in their rout of Syracuse.

Stats of the Night:

UConn nearly beat Syracuse by the same score they defeated Oregon State Sunday in the Final Four semifinal (80-51), but guard Briana Pulido made a jumper to secure the final tally.

“I probably jumped the highest I jumped all season when she shot that shot,” guard Moriah Jefferson said on Pulido game-ending field-goal. “We were so excited for her.”

There was quite a gap in assists between UConn and Syracuse. At one point in the first half, the Huskies were out-passing the Orange 17 assists to one. UConn finished the game with 22 assists, while Syracuse had six.

By the end of the game four Syracuse players had three-plus fouls. The Orange committed 19 personals to UConn’s 10. The Huskies attempted 23 free throws, converting 20, and Syracuse went 5-for-10 from the charity stripe.

Top Performers for Syracuse:

Guard Cornelia Fondren led the way for the Orange, who put up 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while guard Brittney Sykes finished with 12 points and guard Alexis Peterson scored 11. Outside of those three players, Syracuse struggled to have meaningful production.

Top Performers for UConn:

Reigning and three-time player of the year Breanna Stewart led the effort for UConn Tuesday, putting up a near triple-double. She didn’t shoot spectacularly, only 7-for-17 but managed to chip in 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, as well as a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. She was awarded the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

Forward Morgan Tuck, after getting UConn going with a few outside shots to begin the semifinal against OSU, had a quietly good game. She finished with 19 points, while pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out five assists.

Jefferson put up 13 points, three rebounds and five assists. She helped UConn get out to a 15-point lead by the end of the first quarter, when she hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Her speed was on full display, as she helped to set up teammates on the fastbreak all night.

“Doing this together, building, becoming better players, becoming better people since our freshman year,” Stewart said, reflecting on her last game with both seniors Jefferson and Tuck. “To walk off after we’ve accomplished this, there’s no better way to do it than all of us going off at the same time.”

With the Win:

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma made history. He earned his 11th national championship in his 31 year career with the Huskies. The title breaks the tie for most all time in college basketball, passing the renowned UCLA coach John Wooden’s 10 national championships. Wooden won eight straight from 1967 to 1975.

“There’s not much that I can say,” Auriemma said. “There’s no describing it. It’s a feeling that you have that’s indescribable.”

“(This team) has created an amount of excitement that the game has not seen in a long, long time, if not ever,” he said. “And they’ve left an imprint on this game that’s going to last a really long time, and I think it’s a blueprint for kids coming after them.”