New Day, New Title for UConn

Times Staff Writer

Connecticut should be renamed Camelot, because it is where the kings and queens of college basketball reside.

On Tuesday the Huskies won a third straight women’s national championship, ultimately outgunning Tennessee, 70-61, before 18,211 at the New Orleans Arena.

The feat follows that of Connecticut’s men’s team, which beat Georgia Tech for the title Monday in San Antonio. It’s the first time that the men’s and women’s teams from the same school are Division I national champions in the same season. It was the fifth time that both teams from the same school reached the Final Four.


Diana Taurasi ended an incandescent career with 17 points, shooting six for 11 and making baskets whenever Connecticut needed it most. She also found time to show off the soccer skills she learned while growing up in Chino.

At the final horn, Connecticut guard Maria Conlon threw the game ball high into the air. Taurasi caught and kicked into the stands, just missing the top row of the arena. It was the biggest burst of emotion she had shown in the Big Easy.

“This season was so unbelievably difficult in so many ways,” said Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma, whose team finished 31-4. “For Diana to be under so much pressure, I can’t say enough about her. She did what she had to win.

“I wanted Diana’s career to end the right way. I can’t imagine a better way.”

When asked about being a three-time champion Taurasi said, “It’s been amazing. Coming in as a freshman, I never expected this at all. Three in a row? You just don’t do that.”

Only one other team has: Tennessee.

Taurasi had help. Jessica Moore scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, and repeatedly tore through the Lady Vols’ post defense for easy layups. Ann Strother also scored 14.

As for Tennessee (31-4), which has been stuck on six national championships since 1998, how much more agony it has to endure from Connecticut is anyone’s guess. Connecticut has now won five national championships; four have been over Tennessee.


Tuesday’s defeat was Tennessee’s sixth straight to Connecticut. And this is second consecutive Tennessee senior class that failed to win it all.

“What we saw on tape today is what we saw in the game,” Coach Pat Summitt said. “And that was their offensive rebounding; their 11 putback points were huge. And their hustle plays; I just thought they beat us to the ball a lot on our defensive end of floor.”

But beyond the 19 points from Shanna Zolman and 13 points from Ashley Robinson, one of the reasons the Lady Vols struggled on offense Tuesday (22 for 61) and in the Final Four was not having enough players, starters or reserves who could create open shots. At least shots they could make.

“If you look at our bench we had five points tonight,” Summitt said. “And I really thought if we could get something from [forward Sidney] Spencer and [guard] Brittany [Jackson], we would have taken some pressure off Tasha Butts as well as free up Shanna even more. But we didn’t score well from those positions.”

It appeared early that Connecticut would have no problems repeating. After LaToya Davis gave Tennessee a 6-4 lead with a steal and layup, the Huskies outscored the Lady Vols 23-5 over the next nine minutes.

When Strother made a three-point shot to put the Huskies in front 30-13 with 6:29 left in the half, Connecticut seemed poised for the kill. But, somewhat unexpectedly, Tennessee woke up. The Lady Vols ran off the final 11 points of the half to trail 30-24 and make it a game again.


“NCAA tournaments are like that,” Auriemma said. “We’re up 17, they make a run and I’m thinking we might not get the momentum back.”

But even though Tennessee cut Connecticut’s lead to 50-48 with 9:51 to play on a three-pointer by Jackson, Connecticut always found a way to stay a step ahead of the Lady Vols’ charge.

Just as Connecticut is ahead of everyone in the college game.


(Begin Text of Infobox)

Women’s Title



2004 -- Connecticut 70, Tennessee 61

2003 -- Connecticut 73, Tennessee 68

2002 -- Connecticut 82, Oklahoma 70

2001 -- Notre Dame 68, Purdue 66

2000 -- Connecticut 71, Tennessee 52

1999 -- Purdue 62, Duke 45

1998 -- Tennessee 93, Louisiana Tech 75

1997 -- Tennessee 68, Old Dominion 59

1996 -- Tennessee 83, Georgia 65

1995 -- Connecticut 70, Tennessee 64

1994 -- North Carolina 60, La. Tech 59

1993 -- Texas Tech 84, Ohio State 82

1992 -- Stanford 78, Western Kentucky 62

1991 -- Tennessee 70, Virginia 67, OT

1990 -- Stanford 88, Auburn 81

1989 -- Tennessee 76, Auburn 60

1988 -- Louisiana Tech 56, Auburn 54

1987 -- Tennessee 67, Louisiana Tech 44

1986 -- Texas 97, USC 81

1985 -- Old Dominion 70, Georgia 65

1984 -- USC 72, Tennessee 61

1983 -- USC 69, Louisiana Tech 67

1982 -- Louisiana Tech 76, Cheyney 62


1981 -- Louisiana Tech 79, Tennessee 59

1980 -- Old Dominion 68, Tennessee 53

1979 -- Old Dominion 75, La. Tech 65

1978 -- UCLA 90, Maryland 74

1977 -- Delta State 68, LSU 55

1976 -- Delta State 69, Immaculata 64

1975 -- Delta State 90, Immaculata 81

1974 -- Immaculata 68, Miss. College 53

1973 -- Immaculata 59, Queens 52

1972 -- Immaculata 52, West Chester 48

Final Four MVPs

2004 -- Diana Taurasi, Connecticut

2003 -- Diana Taurasi, Connecticut

2002 -- Swin Cash, Connecticut

2001 -- Ruth Riley, Notre Dame

2000 -- Shea Ralph, Connecticut

1999 -- Ukari Figgs, Purdue

1998 -- Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee

1997 -- Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee

1996 -- Michelle Marciniak, Tennessee

1995 -- Rebecca Lobo, Connecticut

1994 -- Charlotte Smith, North Carolina

1993 -- Sheryl Swoopes, Texas Tech

1992 -- Molly Goodenbour, Stanford

1991 -- Dawn Staley, Virginia

1990 -- Jennifer Azzi, Stanford

1989 -- Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee

1988 -- Erica Westbrooks, Louisiana Tech

1987 -- Tonya Edwards, Tennessee

1986 -- Clarissa Davis, Texas

1985 -- Tracy Claxton, Old Dominion

1984 -- Cheryl Miller, USC

1983 -- Cheryl Miller, USC

1982 -- Janice Lawrence, Louisiana Tech


Multiple NCAA Titles for Coaches

6 -- Pat Summitt, Tennessee

5 -- Geno Auriemma, Connecticut

2 -- Linda Sharp, USC; Tara VanDerveer, Stanford