UConn Wins 8th National Championship Over Louisville
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The University of Connecticut reasserted its dominance in women's college basketball last night. UConn won a record-tying eighth NCAA championship, stomping Louisville 93-to-60. Louisville was trying to become just the second school to win both the men's and women's titles. But the Cards could not duplicate the Louisville men's championship from Monday night.
From New Orleans, here's NPR's Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: You know, you do what you can, you use what you got. And that's why the first buzz of excitement last night spread throughout the Louisville section, in the New Orleans arena. Men's coach Rick Pitino showed up, fresh off one of the best days of his life - winning a national title and getting elected to the basketball Hall of Fame.
DI PORTER: Hold on, I wasn't ready.
GOLDMAN: Di Porter of New Orleans fumbled with her iPhone camera a bit, before getting the perfect shot of the coach with her 13-year-old grand-daughter.
PORTER: And he did take it with her. And I say that's a future alumni right here.
GOLDMAN: And so, red-clad Cardinals fans settled in, buoyed by the presence of a winner, hopeful it would help make magic for a second night in a row.
(SOUNDBITE OF A CROWD)
GOLDMAN: Something was working early as Louisville took a 14-to-10 lead in the first six minutes. But then UConn waved a collective buh(ph)-bye. A Bria Hartley jumper here a Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis three-pointer there and suddenly the Huskies had scored 19 straight points and Rick Pitino's name was mud. Not really - it wasn't his fault. Blame Connecticut for being so darn good.
On defense, the Huskies made it a priority to shut down Louisville sharp shooters Antonita Slaughter and Shoni Schimmel - done. The two went a combined two-for12 from three-point range; Schimmel, the star coming into the Final Four, had another dreary offensive night, sinking only three of 15 shots. On offense, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz sounded like a man facing a tidal wave with a towel.
JEFF WALZ: Well, what makes them so unique is their ability to score from all five positions on the floor. You've got to, kind of, pick your poison. I told our players, too, I mean we're going to have to make someone shoot the ball that normally might not.
GOLDMAN: UConn fans lined up to hug senior guard Kelly Faris, at game's end. Faris is one of those players Walz is talking about. She normally doesn't score bushels of points. But last night, the ending to her college career - nice symmetry, huh - Faris drained four three-pointers for 16 points; got a big bear hug from head coach Geno Auriemma when she left the game and then praised the man who's now eight-for-eight in championship games.
KELLY FARRIS: There's times that I don't know how the heck he does what he does. But he's pretty darn good at his job and he figures out, you know, a way to get it done. And happy to have him on my side.
GOLDMAN: Auriemma sent the love right back.
GENO AURIEMMA: Especially Kelly, she deserves this championship because she competes for the national championship every day in everything she does. And I'm really, really happy for her. Stewie, eh.
GOLDMAN: Hard to say what's going to be more fun over the next three years - watching Geno Auriemma tease his freshman phenom, Breanna Stewart, or watching Stewie be a phenom, which she was last night again: 23 points, nine rebounds, three blocks on top of her semifinal performance, 29 points and a lot of other good stuff. The six foot four 18 -year-old also is a comedic match for Auriemma.
Hey, Breanna, what were you thinking moments before you won a national championship as a freshman?
BREANNA STEWART: I was just trying to figure out who the first person I was going to hug was going to be.
GOLDMAN: Well, she's got a second trophy to hug. Stewart was named Most Outstanding Player for the Final Four - a Final Four that began with talk of new parity in the women's game, Louisville having taken down mighty Baylor and Tennessee on its way to New Orleans. A Final Four that ended without real drama, but a good helping of basketball excellence - something even Rick Pitino can appreciate.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.