UConn Crushes Notre Dame In NCAA Women's Championship

fromWPLN

In a historic NCAA women's basketball game, two unbeaten teams vied for the national championship Tuesday night. The University of Connecticut beat Notre Dame 79-58. It's a record 9th title for UConn.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

GREENE: That is the sound of students at the University of Connecticut celebrating a national championship in basketball. You know, I could've read this very script yesterday. Monday night, UConn's men's basketball team won the national title; then last night, UConn's women became champs as well, cruising to victory over Notre Dame. Both teams were undefeated going into the title game in Nashville. Here's Blake Farmer from member station WPLN.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: This game was hyped as historic - a battle of the unbeatens.

WAYNE LOVE: Anyone need tickets guys? Anyone need tickets?

FARMER: Scalpers were on the prowl at the doors to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Lana Mark arrived after making the drive from South Bend.

LANA MARK: This is a once-in-a-lifetime. That's why I had to have a ticket. Once in a lifetime.

FARMER: She came to cheer for Notre Dame, but it was the Huskies who put on a show for the sellout crowd.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD NOISE)

FARMER: They dominated from the tip-off, as was noted early in the NCAA official radio broadcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: UConn, you are playing some great basketball tonight; 11:30 to go first half.

FARMER: Connecticut's 6-foot-4 standout Breanna Stewart led the team with 21 points, playing almost every minute of the game. Notre Dame fell behind by more points than they've trailed any team all season.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAME)

(SOUNDBITE OF BAND MUSIC)

FARMER: They're playing the fight song, but not a whole lot of fight in the Fighting Irish at this moment. Down by 20 points, with eight minutes left in the game.

KEITH VANACORE: This is the absolute bomb.

FARMER: Huskies fans - like Keith Vanacore, of Connecticut - cheered their team to a 79-58 victory. Vanacore says Notre Dame was no match as Connecticut rolled to its second-straight championship.

VANACORE: Two undefeated teams, but this team is so good it's scary.

MUFFET MCGRAW: We had no answer, really, for anything they did.

FARMER: Longtime Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw says her team seemed to be out of its league. At least, that's what she told UConn's head coach when they shook hands.

MCGRAW: I said something like I thought we were playing the Miami Heat for a while.

FARMER: The Huskies dominated down low, attempting very few jump shots and three-pointers. Coach Geno Auriemma says it was the plan, and it worked better than expected.

GENO AURIEMMA: You don't go into a game thinking that you're going to, you know, outscore the other team by 30 points in the paint.

FARMER: Sophomore Breanna Stewart had a big night. But after cutting down the nets, she let center Stephanie Dolson, who is graduating, do most of the talking. Dolson says she didn't feel that much pressure to win.

STEPHANIE DOLSON: You're so prepared that there's no other - there's no other ending than winning.

FARMER: The perfect season - capped with a championship - means coach Auriemma has nine national titles, more than anyone in college basketball history. But last night he downplayed the significance.

AURIEMMA: You're flattered and you're grateful, and you're all the things, you know, that come with, you know, this kind of accomplishment, or course. But that's not the driving force. That's not what motivates us.

FARMER: UConn has also matched another feat the school accomplished for the first time a decade ago. Again this year UConn holds both the men's and women's basketball titles. For NPR News, I'm Blake Farmer in Nashville.

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