Championship game notebook - WSMV Channel 4

Championship game notebook

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UConn celebrates its ninth national championship Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena UConn celebrates its ninth national championship Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena

FINAL FOUR RETURN: Would Nashville have a chance to host a Women's Final Four again? If Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma has a vote, the answer would be yes.

Bridgestone Arena hosted the Women's Final Four for the first time. The city's construction of the Music City Center and additional hotels downtown are credited with the reason that Nashville was selected.

"It won't be the last time," said Auriemma. "I could probably count 50 people that traveled down here with us that don't want to go home. They said that they want to move down here.

"I think it's just perfect. It's not overwhelming. It's not a place you're going to get lost in. You don't have to travel around for half an hour, 40 minutes in a car to go find stuff. It's all right there. And the people have been absolutely amazing."

Bridgestone Arena is used to hosting elite sporting events. Nine Southeastern Conference championships (four for men and five for women) have been played at the arena. Beginning in 2015, Nashville will host 12 straight SEC championships (nine for men and three for women).

Four NCAA Men's Tournament opening rounds have been played at Bridgestone Arena, the last being in 2012, not to mention events like the Country Music Award and CMT Awards that are annual events at the arena.

"This town has a great reputation. I'm sure they host great events. They're used to it," said Auriemma. "I hope this becomes a regular destination, and I hope we come back here."

STAR-SPANGLED BANNER: A special tribute celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner took place prior to Tuesday championship game as country music newcomer Cassadee Pope - winner of the third season of NBC's The Voice - performed the national anthem, accompanied by the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps. The tribute incorporated the past, present and future of the American flag.

ALL-TOURNAMENT: Connecticut's Breanna Stewart was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Women's Final Four. Stewart scored a team-high 21 points in Tuesday's championship game.

Stewart was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson. Notre Dame's Kayla McBride, who scored 49 points in the two games, and Jewell Loyd was also named to the team.

McBride's 49 points is tied for the ninth most scored in Final Four history. She tied the 49 points scored by Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike in 2010. Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoopes holds the record. She scored 78 points during the 1993 tournament.

BY THE BOOK: The following records were set during the Women's Final Four:

  • The two teams combined for 83 points in the first half (UConn led, 45-38), marking the sixth-highest scoring half in championship game history, and the second-most points in the first half of a championship game.
  • Stefanie Dolson grabbed 16 rebounds, tying the 12th-highest total in a Final Four game, and the fifth-highest total in a national championship game.
  • UConn tallied 25 assists, the most ever in a national championship game. The Huskies' 40 rebounds in this Final Four equal their mark from last year as the second-most ever in a Final Four.
  • UConn out-rebounded Notre Dame by 23 (54-31), equaling the second-highest rebound margin in national championship game history. The Huskies' 54 rebounds equal the second-most ever in a title game.
  • UConn defeated Notre Dame by 21 points, marking the fifth-highest winning margin in national championship game history.
  • UConn made 34 field goals (34-73), the fourth-most in a national championship game. The Huskies' 73 field goal attempts equal the second-most in national championship game history.
  • UConn blocked 11 shots during the Final Four, equaling the eighth-highest total over two games.
  • The Huskies committed 23 turnovers in the Final Four, equaling the eighth-lowest total over two games.
  • UConn was called for 22 fouls in the Final Four, equaling the lowest total over two games.
  • Stefanie Dolson had three blocks, giving her 50 in her NCAA tournament career, placing her fourth in tournament history. Breanna Stewart had two blocks to give her 33 for her tournament career and placing her tied for 11th on the all-time list.
  • Notre Dame's Kayla McBride accumulated 49 points during the two Final Four contests, tying the ninth-highest total in Final Four history. McBride made 20 field goals, equaling the sixth-highest total over two games in Final Four history.
  • McBride finished her NCAA tournament career with the seventh-best free throw percentage (44-50, .880).

COACHING TREE: Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and Connecticut coach Auriemma both come from the same coaching tree.

Former Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster hired both of the Final Four coaches as assistant coaches for him when he was at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia.

Foster, who now coaches at Chattanooga, hired Auriemma when he was named the St. Joseph's coach. When Auriemma left for an assistant coaching position at Virginia, Foster hired McGraw to replace him.

This season Foster became the first women's coach to lead four teams - St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Chattanooga - to the NCAA Tournament.

AWARDS: Connecticut's Breanna Stewart was awarded the Naismith Award, which signifies the player of the year. Entering the title game, Stewart had 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

McGraw received the Wooden Award. The coach of the year honor is named for former UCLA coach John Wooden.

STREAKS: This year's appearance in the Final Four is the seventh straight for UConn.

The Huskies have entered the NCAA Tournament unbeaten six times and have won four titles prior to Monday night.

PERFECTION: For the first time in NCAA history, two undefeated teams played for the national championship.

Notre Dame was 37-0 entering the championship game while UConn was 39-0.

Tuesday will be the eighth unbeaten season in Division I. The others were Texas (1984), Connecticut (1995, 2002, 2009, 2010), Tennessee (1998) and Baylor (2012).

The NCAA will crown three unbeaten champions this season.

Bentley finished 35-0 en route to winning the Division II title while FDU-Florham won Division III with a 33-0 mark.

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