Connecticut women win NCAA title, Geno Auriemma ties John Wooden mark

Connecticut women win NCAA title, Geno Auriemma ties John Wooden mark
Connecticut players celebrate with the national championship trophy after defeating Notre Dame, 63-53, in the NCAA women's basketball national championship game on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara / AP)

Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies are a perfect 10.

The Hall of Fame coach joined some elite company in John Wooden after tying the UCLA legend with his 10th NCAA tournament title.


"I'll be the first to say I'm not John Wooden and I got a bunch of friends who'd tell you I'm right, I'm not," Auriemma said. "I just think what we've done here in the last 20 years is pretty remarkable in its own right."

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson each scored 15 points Tuesday night to lead the Huskies to a 63-53 victory over Notre Dame. It was UConn's third straight title; Auriemma and the Huskies have won all 10 of their trips to the national championship game.

"Each day after Jan. 1, this team just kept proving over and over again," Auriemma said. "You wouldn't notice this by the scores. Every day this team kept working, they deserve everything they have."

Breanna Stewart added 15 rebounds and eight points for UConn (38-1). The two-time Associated Press player of the year has saved her best games for the brightest lights.

She earned honors for most outstanding player of the Final Four for the third time, making her the first woman to achieve that. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the only men's player to do it when he played for Wooden's Bruins.

Auriemma won his title one night after fellow USA Basketball Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth men's championship at Duke.

"Our Dad was very proud of Geno and Mike and how throughout their years as collegiate head basketball coaches they have diligently led their student-athletes to be successful on the court, in the classroom and in their lives," Wooden's children Nan and Jim Wooden said in a statement.

Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd did all she could to get the Irish over the top. Coach Muffet McGraw had her team back in the championship game for the fourth time in five seasons. The Irish have come up short each time, including the last two against Connecticut.

Notre Dame's lone title came in 2001.

Loyd had 12 points for the Irish, going four for 18 from the field. She missed all eight of her shots in the second half.

The Irish (36-3) were able to slow the Huskies in the early going, not letting them a run going on offense. Connecticut led 31-23 at the half.

After the Irish cut it to five to start the second half, Connecticut scored seven straight to open up a double-digit advantage. The Irish wouldn't go away, thanks to Brianna Turner, who missed the earlier meeting which the Huskies won by 18 points.

She had eight straight points for the Irish in the second half, including banking in a shot from the top of the key as the shot clock was reaching zero. That got the Irish to within 54-48.

After the teams traded baskets, Mosqueda-Lewis scored seven straight, including a three-pointer, to restore the double-digit advantage with just over four minutes left and Notre Dame couldn't recover.


"I thought the 3 that Lewis hit was critical," McGraw said.