Women's College Basketball

 
              === UConn left standing in battle for perfection ===
 
 Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Connecticut culminated the program's fifth
 undefeated  season in  convincing fashion in a national championship game that
 was  billed as a battle of unbeatens, but turned into another showcase for the
 Huskies' dominance in women's basketball.
 
 Breanna  Stewart  and Stefanie  Dolson had their  way against undersized Notre
 Dame,  while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was nearly as unstoppable on the perimeter
 as  UConn  handled the Fighting Irish,  79-58, to capture a record ninth title
 for the program.
 
 The  rout put an exclamation point on several notable records for the back-to-
 back  champs,  who joined the  2011-12 Baylor squad as  the only 40-0 teams in
 women's  history and repeated a feat the school accomplished 10 years ago when
 both the men's and women's teams won the NCAA Tournament.
 
 Geno  Auriemma also  passed Pat  Summitt with  his ninth  championship as  the
 Huskies' head coach improved to 9-0 all-time in the title games.
 
 "There really isn't much that you can say when we have a performance like that
 where your players are just really locked into what we wanted to do and how we
 wanted to do it," Auriemma said. "It's just an incredible effort by the entire
 team."
 
 Notre  Dame did its part in making Tuesday's game an unprecedented one, as the
 Irish  overcame an injury  to one of their best players and downed Maryland in
 the  Final Four to  set up the first ever NCAA Tournament title game -- men or
 women's -- between undefeated programs.
 
 But  without  senior forward Natalie  Achonwa, who suffered  a torn ACL in the
 regional  final, the  Irish (37-1) had no answer inside for the combination of
 Stewart and Dolson, who spurred an absurd 52-22 advantage in the paint.
 
 "Right  from the beginning  of the game we went in, took advantage of the size
 we  had against  them,"  Dolson said.  "And  right when  we  realized what  an
 advantage we had, we just kept kind of pushing it at them, and we never really
 backed down."
 
 The  frontcourt  duo combined for  18 of the Huskies'  first 22 points as they
 raced out to a 22-8 lead.
 
 A  slew  of Notre Dame  3-pointers, including two by  Jewell Loyd in the final
 minute-plus  of the half, cut into the deficit and had the Irish within 43-38.
 Mosqueda-Lewis, though, ended the half with an putback following one of the 22
 offensive rebounds for the Huskies.
 
 It was much of the same in the second half.
 
 Stewart laid in an errant Mosqueda-Lewis 3-pointer to rebuild the double-digit
 lead,  51-40, less  than  four minutes  in,  and an  8-0  run, highlighted  by
 Dolson's  three-point  play off  yet another putback,  stretched the margin to
 63-42.
 
 The closest Notre Dame got over the final 10 minutes was 17.
 
 The  Irish had  won seven of the  eight meetings against their former Big East
 rivals  before  losing to them  in last year's Final  Four. This was the third
 time  they have  reached the title game  in the last four years and lost, with
 their only title coming in 2001.
 
 Stewart,  who  won the Naismith Trophy  on Monday, finished with 21 points and
 nine  rebounds, Dolson  donated 17  and 16  and Mosqueda-Lewis  chipped in  18
 points in the blowout.
 
 Kayla  McBride paced Notre  Dame with 21 points while Loyd added 13 on 4-of-15
 shooting.
 
 "They  just  came out and  they went  directly in the  post, and our help side
 wasn't  there  from the get-go. They  got comfortable. They got into a rhythm,
 and it went downhill from there," a disappointed McBride said.
 
 
 04/09 01:50:10 ET

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