Title wave hits UConn, which wins women's title with 78th consecutive victory

SAN ANTONIO — Sometimes things don't work out perfectly. So much can happen from the blueprint to the bouquets that just getting the chance to win a national championship is a blessing.

But to win another championship in the same fashion, so fluently, so flawlessly, so fabulously, is something the sport may never see again.

The magnificent run to a seventh national championship for the nation's pre-eminent college basketball program ended with an unusual but emphatic 53-47 win over Stanford at The Alamodome on Tuesday night.

Maya Moore, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, scored 18 of her game-high 23 points in the second half to lead UConn past Stanford (36-2).

"People asked how are you going to react when it's a close game," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We reacted the way champions react and we won the game and that's what counts."


Kayla Pedersen led Stanford with 15 points. Both of the Cardinal losses were to the Huskies. UConn (39-0) is 7-0 in national championship games and has won four of those titles unbeaten.

There's no other way to put this: It was an incredibly torturous win, the most bizarre of a winning streak that will begin next season at 78. But UConn's streak of double-digit wins ends at 77. The Huskies escaped disaster after scoring 12 first-half points.

The Huskies trailed 20-12 at the half and then came out smoking in the second, scoring 17 of the first 19 points, including 12 straight. Moore's three with 14:23 to play gave UConn a 23-22 lead. During its 77-game winning streak, it had never trailed later than 14:47.

Soon after came its first 10-point lead (38-27) when Tina Charles scored.

UConn's bold approach had carried it through this season, but the only thing Auriemma ever really feared, an ill-timed doomsday scenario, reared its head with unfathomable fury in the first half.

The Huskies fought back to 20-17 and then caught a break when Stanford's All-America center, Jayne Appel, already dealing with bad right ankle, aggravated it taking a charge with 15:48 to play. It took all she had to hobble to the bench.

Appel had the ankle re-taped, went to the locker room and returned with 12:30 to play, the Huskies leading, 27-22. But she was not right. And soon she was back on the bench.

A conventional three-point play by Kalana Greene and five points by Moore gave UConn a 25-22 lead with 13:38 to play. Stanford was 1-for-10 in the half.


UConn made only 5 of its 29 shots (17.2 percent) in the first half and Charles (nine points), the consensus national player of the year, had only two points (1-for-6).

The Huskies took a 5-0 lead on two baskets by Tiffany Hayes with 17:59 to play, but it was quickly clear things were not right.

UConn missed 18 of its first 20 shots (Moore was 0-for-5)_including 16 straight over 10:37 — and that drought enabled the Cardinal to score 12 unanswered points to take the biggest lead (12-5) any team had this season against the Huskies.

What helped UConn most was that Stanford's shooting was just as poor. The Cardinal missed 22 of its first 29 shots and with 1:33 to play, instead of having a double-digit lead, they were ahead by only six (18-12) after Moore's first three-pointer.

UConn is expected to arrive at Bradley International Airport at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. The team is scheduled to travel to Gampel for a ceremony.

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