The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

College Sports

April 10, 2013

UConn women rout Louisville for 8th title

NEW ORLEANS — Geno Auriemma and Connecticut are back on top. With freshman Breanna Stewart leading the way, it might be a while before they give it up, too.

Stewart scored 18 of her 23 points in a dazzling first half, and Connecticut won its eighth national championship with a 93-60 rout of Louisville on Tuesday night. It was the most lopsided victory in a title game, and it put the Huskies back atop college basketball after missing the title game the past two years.

The title tied Auriemma and the Huskies (35-4) with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for the most in women’s basketball history.

“The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach that ever lived,” Auriemma said. “I’m just thrilled for our seniors. This team accomplished an amazing feat this last month.”

It might not take long for Auriemma to pass Summitt, not with the way Stewart and the rest of his Huskies played. His prized freshman was unstoppable, hitting shots from everywhere on the court to earn Most Outstanding Player honors for the Final Four. She’s only the fourth freshman ever to have that honor and first since 1987. Even her father in the stands repeatedly said “wow” as his daughter took the game over and Cardinals men’s coach Rick Pitino, in town to cheer on the Louisville women, called her one of the best freshman in basketball.

“This is unbelievable,” Stewart said. “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. I just played really confident and stopped thinking. When I second-guess myself, nothing good comes out of that.”

After Auriemma cut down the final strand of the net, his team carried him around the court in celebration.

The loss ended an unprecedented tournament run by Louisville. The Cardinals became the first No. 5 seed to make the championship game, pulling off the greatest upset in tournament history when they beat Brittney Griner and Baylor in the regional semifinals. Jeff Walz’s team then beat Tennessee in the regional final before topping Cal in the Final Four.

“The run we went on was remarkable and something I’ll always remember” Walz said. “We’re walking out with our head high and proud of what we’ve done.”

The Cardinals just didn’t have enough to beat their Big East foe. Louisville was trying to become just the second school to win both the men’s and women’s championship in the same season and the first since UConn in 2004. Pitino, fresh off his team’s 82-76 win in the title game over Michigan on Monday night, was sitting behind the Cardinals bench, trying to spur on the women’s team. He talked to the players at their pregame meal and told them to just enjoy the moment and have fun in the game.

It wasn’t to be. Instead, the trip to the Big Easy marked the beginning of the Stewart era.

The heralded freshman had one of the most remarkable runs of any first-year player in the history of the NCAA tournament. She finished with 105 points in only five games — she missed the first round rout of Idaho to rest a sore calf — the most by any first-year player since 2000, according to STATS. UConn’s Maya Moore held the previous mark with 93 points.

The 6-foot-4 star passed Moore with a neat tip-in with 7:04 left in the first half and wound up with a performance reminiscent of two of the all-time greats. As freshmen, Cheryl Miller guided USC to a title in 1983 and Chamique Holdsclaw led Tennessee to a championship in 1996.

Stewart scored seven points during the pivotal 19-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into a double-digit lead and put the Cardinals in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

“We rushed a lot, we started to panic a bit,” Walz said. “They started executing.”

Stewart later swooped in for an incredible offensive rebound that she put back to make it 39-23. The Huskies led 48-29 at the half as Stewart had 18 points; the 19-point advantage fell four points short of the championship record set by Tennessee against Louisiana Tech in 1998.

UConn dashed any hopes of a Louisville comeback going on a 12-2 run after the Cardinals had cut the deficit to 60-44. The only question over the last 10 minutes would be whether this was the biggest blowout in title game history, and the Huskies easily surpassed Tennessee’s 23-point win over Louisiana Tech in 1987. The Huskies beat Louisville by 22 points in the 2009 title game. Louisville was trying to become the lowest seed to win an NCAA championship on the women’s side. Villanova, as an eight seed, was the lowest ever to win it on the men’s side back in 1985.

The Schimmel sisters, who really carried Louisville in the tournament, had a rough go against UConn. Shoni Schimmel missed her first six shots and finished with just seven points on 3-of-15 shooting. Jude Schimmel was saddled with three fouls in the first half.

“We made a miracle run in this tournament and will remember that the rest of their lives,” said Sara Hammond, who led Louisville with 15 points.

With UConn’s victory, the Big East conference won a ninth national championship. The conference, which will split apart after this season, has been the most dominant in women’s basketball over the past decade.

And having both teams in the championship game was a fitting end to its current configuration. Neither team will be in the new Big East next season. Both will be in the American Athletic Conference. Louisville will then head to the ACC the year after.

This was the first of UConn’s championships when the Huskies didn’t win a regular season or Big East tournament championship, making it a little bit sweeter for seniors Kelly Faris, Caroline Doty and Heather Buck. UConn’s other national championships came in 1995, 2000, 2002-04, 2009-10.

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Waltman, Royce Longtime Indiana basketball coach Waltman dies at 72 Royce Waltman, an assistant to Bob Knight at Indiana and a longtime basketball coach around the Hoosier state, died Monday night after battling a long illness. He was 72.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA Kentucky UConn F_Brem(1).jpg Connecticut wins NCAA title

    Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky's freshmen and a national title hardly anyone saw coming.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_isaacsmith.jpg Near tragedy creates emotional moments at Indiana

    Without Ty Smith, Nick Stoner and Mitch McCune, Isaac Griffith probably wouldn't have been in the Hoosiers' team room on a crisp, blustery spring afternoon, explaining how grateful he is for a second chance at life.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0403 - AU vs Manchester - 115 Ravens baseball team eyes progression

    Four years ago the Anderson University baseball team had claimed its eighth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title in 25 years — just its second in 13 years.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0402 - AU vs Manchester - 090 Ravens falter late in baseball loss The Anderson University Ravens failed to capitalize on their chance to put some separation between themselves and Manchester University in the standings of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tuesday night.

    April 2, 2014 3 Photos

  • AU sets sights on another conference title A year after making a historic run to the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship, the Anderson University Lady Ravens are ready to take that next step.

    March 31, 2014

  • SPT - HB0331 - AU vs. Franklin Lady Ravens open home schedule with two wins After playing nine games in Florida to opening the season and have two area games postponed due to weather, the Anderson Lady Ravens opened the home portion of their schedule Sunday afternoon with a sweep of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Franklin, 10-2 and 8-4.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kentucky punches ticket with late 3 Kentucky was the final team to punch its ticket for the Final Four, but none made it with any more gusto.

    March 30, 2014

  • spt_michigan.jpg Michigan holds off furious Vols' rally

    Tennessee came within one offensive foul call of pulling off one of the really big rallies in NCAA Sweet 16 history. But Michigan’s Nik Stauskas hit one of two free throws to secure the Wolverines’ place in the Elite Eight at the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday night.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo