Undefeated UConn Women Capture The NCAA Championship

April 8, 2009

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team routed the Louisville Cardinals 76-54 in Tuesday night's National Championship game in St. Louis, capping off a perfect 39-0 season, and securing the school's sixth NCAA National Title. By maintaining such a consistent level of dominance this season, the Huskies certainly inserted themselves into the debate as to which squad is the greatest women's college basketball team of all-time. The victory also was the sixth National Championship and third undefeated season in coach Geno Auriemma's illustrious career.

This year, the Lady Huskies truly defined dominance, as they became the first team in collegiate history (men's or women's) to win each of their 39 games by a margin of at least 10 points. Their 22-point margin of victory in the title game fell just short of equaling the National Championship game record of a 23-point margin of victory set by Pat Summit's 1987 Tennessee Volunteers.

The Huskies were led on this night by the dominant inside play of junior pivot Tina Charles, who missed only two shots from the field on the way to posting a monstrous 25 point, 19 rebound stat line. The much-maligned Charles secured a measure of personal redemption with her superior post play, as she didn't miss a shot from the field in the second half, and was deservedly named as the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

The win and MOP trophy came a year after Auriemma, still sensing that he could get more out of his enigmatic center, had repeatedly challenged her to step up her play, even going so far as to bench the 6'4" Queens native during last year's Final Four loss to the Stanford Cardinal. In fact, Auriemma lamented after that loss about the Huskies lack of "an inside game," which most observers saw as a thinly-veiled shot at Charles' uninspired play down low.

What a difference a year makes.

In addition, sophomore sensation and National Player of the Year Maya Moore contributed with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and five assists, while senior point guard and team captain Renee Montgomery also added 18 points for the Huskies.

Montgomery and Moore were both named to the All-Tournament team after the game, along with teammate Charles. Louisville's Angel McCoughtry, and Stanford's Jayne Appel rounded out the rest of this year's all-tourney team.

For Louisville, the inspired play of the indomitable Angel McCoughtry kept them close initially. However, even McCoughtry's impressive line of 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals wasn't enough to topple the mighty Huskies, as UConn's underrated defense was able to successfully stifle the Cardinals' attack. At one point, the UConn D forced Louisville into missing 18 consecutive shots.

Before leaving, McCoughtry, the Baltimore native with the gritty game to match, assured the assembled media that despite the loss, her Louisville team still felt as if "we have so much to be proud of." McCoughtry certainly does, as her dogged determination, killer-instinct, and attack-first mentality will likely make her a very high draft pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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