UConn women snare fifth Big East title in row

March 7, 2012 12:00 am

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut has been the dominant women's college basketball program for nearly two decades, but Tuesday night the Huskies found themselves as underdogs as they faced chief nemesis Notre Dame.

But the Huskies (29-4) once again showed why everybody is still chasing them as they used a superb defensive effort to upset the third-ranked Irish, 63-54, and win the Big East women's basketball tournament championship game at the XL Center.

It is the fifth consecutive season the Huskies, seeded No. 3, have won the Big East tournament and the 19th in a row in which they have won either the regular season or tournament championship.

It was also the sixth time in six tries that Connecticut has beaten Notre Dame in the championship game of this tournament.

Meanwhile, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma became just the sixth Division I coach to notch 800wins (800-128).

The Irish (30-3) never have won the Big East tournament and are 0-6 in championship games. They came in as the No. 1 seed.

But Connecticut, with only one senior and featuring two sophomores and two freshmen, has matured in a hurry.

"When you play in these kinds of games and knowing what both teams go through and what it takes to get to this point, you hope that it is a great game and you hope that both teams play their hearts out," Auriemma said. "I know my players are exhausted, and they should be. They are a little bit more grown up now than they were a week ago and I'm thrilled for them."

The Huskies jumped to a 27-17 lead, then seemed to relax and the Irish fought back. After Kaila Turner hit a 3-pointer as time expired before the half, the Irish trailed only 31-30. The Huskies seemed to go into the locker room a bit deflated.

But the opposite was true, according to Auriemma, who said the first half gave the Huskies the confidence to win the game.

The Huskies used a 13-6 run to take a 50-43 lead with 7:37 left and Kelly Farris' 3-pointer with 2:55 to play pushed the lead to nine and deflated the Irish.

Connecticut freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis finished with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds and was named the most outstanding player of the tournament, and sophomore Bria Hartley made the all-tournament team and scored 18 points.


First Published 2012-03-06 23:16:11

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