UConn wins ninth championship, beats Notre Dame 79-58 - WSMV Channel 4

UConn wins ninth championship, beats Notre Dame 79-58

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Connecticut finished the season perfect en route to a women's record ninth national championship, and second in a row, with a 79-58 victory over Notre Dame.

The Huskies (40-0) finished with their fifth unbeaten season and broke a tie with Tennessee for most women's championships.

"There really isn't much that you can say when we have a performance like that, where your players are just really locked into what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "There's just an incredible effort by the entire team."

For the second time, both the Connecticut men's and women's team won championships in the same year.

"We've been talking to the guys all week, and they were saying, 'Just one more game. Just bring it home. Let's go home with the baggage.' That's exactly what we did," said UConn forward Stefanie Dolson.

Both Notre Dame (37-1) and Connecticut were unbeaten, marking the first time in either men's or women's basketball that both teams in the title game were perfect.

The Huskies took advantage of Notre Dame in the paint. The Fighting Irish were playing their second game without forward Natalie Achonwa, who tore her ACL in the final minutes of the Fighting Irish's win over Baylor in the region finals.

"We knew we had a size advantage with them," said UConn forward Stefanie Dolson. "Losing [Natalie] Achonwa was terrible, but we knew we could really get the ball in the paint, and that's what we did. We finished inside."

Connecticut outscored Notre Dame 32-10 in the paint during the first half while building a 45-38 lead. The Huskies finished with a 52-22 margin in the paint and outrebounded Notre Dame 54-31.

"I think that we just came out undermatched," said Notre Dame senior Kayla McBride. "I don't think anything could have changed to change that. They just came out, and they went directly in the post, and our help side wasn't there from the get-go. They got comfortable. They got into a rhythm, and it went downhill from there."

Stewart, the Naismith Award winner, paced the Huskies with 21 points.

Stewart and Dolson, who finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, paced a 16-0 run early in the first half that erased an early Notre Dame lead.

Notre Dame missed six straight shots and turned it over twice during the run, while the Huskies hit seven straight from the field. The Huskies hit eight straight field goals and turned it over once.

Stewart and Dolson each scored six points during the run.

"I thought Stewart was phenomenal. And Dolson, 16 and 17 is pretty amazing," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. "I thought we were overmatched in the post."

The Fighting Irish were able to chip away at UConn's lead, cutting it to 43-38 on Jewell Loyd's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.

However, the Huskies hit the final shot as Mosqueda-Lewis hit a put back after Dolson's missed jumper from the free throw line.

In the second half, Notre Dame went ice cold from the field, hitting just 2 of its first 13 shots from the field while UConn stretched its lead to 63-42.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 18 points and Bria Hartley added 13 points for the Huskies.

Kayla McBride, who scored 28 points in Sunday's semifinal win over Stanford, paced the Fighting Irish with 21 points. Loyd scored 13 and Michaela Mabrey added 10.

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