One Title Down. UConn women win AAC Title over Louisville.
UNCASVILLE: Sometimes when a team is on THAT kind of roll, you could be spotted 10-points and an extra guard and it would make no difference.
I’ll even throw in a half a dozen more seconds on the shot clock. Go ahead, see if you can beat this University of Connecticut team the way they are playing right now.
Try as they may and talk as they may, the Louisville Cardinals have found their roadblock to their “Stairway to Heaven” and they are nicknamed the Huskies.
The first ever American Athletic Conference Championship belongs to UConn as they got off to their second consecutive hot start and their way to a 72-52 win over the Cardinals.
34-0. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
This avalanche of tremendous beginnings started on Sunday when the Huskies ran out and away from Rutgers with a 13-0 start that propelled them to an easy 83-57 win and a spot in the finals against the second best team in the AAC.
Louisville head Coach Jeff Walz has tried to instill a sense of believe in his team that they could get by UConn at some point and why not Monday night.
“I’m sure nobody saw Baylor coming last year (an upset win in the Sweet 16) but it did,” Walz said. “I thought we did some good things out there tonight, just not enough. To beat UConn, you have to play 40 minutes of real good basketball, not 20 or 30.”
Monday night it was a pair of three’s, one by Tournament MVP, Breanna Stewart and the other by Bria Hartley that got the party started.
A jumper by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made in an 8-0 lead and Walz in need of a time out.
Getting off to fast starts is something UConn does more often than not and it all stems from the opening minutes of their practices.
“We have our practices set up so that they have to get things done in a hurry,” head coach Geno Auriemma said after the win. “If they don’t get it right fast, they have to do it until they get it right.”
In their second meeting with Louisville, it was the Cardinals who jumped out to a fast 7-0 lead before the Huskies came back to eventually win by 20 on the road.
UConn is right now to Louisville what Notre Dame was to UConn a year ago when the Huskies lost three straight times before finally getting that elusive win in the Final Four.
Standout Shoni Schimmel led her team with 20 points but was only 7-25 overall, 4-16 from beyond the arch.
Louisville did close the cap in the first half to eight at 28-20 off a 10-1 run but a crucial, traditional three point play by Stewart (20 points, nine boards) set up a 12-2 run at the end of the half that pushed the lead to 40-22 at the break.
Stefanie Dolson did not have a hot shooting night Monday (4-13) but finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds, another double-double for the senior center.
Hartley chipped in with 16, included a trio of long balls.
Kiah Stokes did what she always does, comes in and throws in 15 productive minutes that included 4 points, 7 rebounds and one of six Huskie blocks on the night.
One goal down, one even bigger one to go.
“When you start practice on October 15, your goal is to win your conference,” Auriemma said. “It’s an important win for us because it gets us to our next goal of winning a National Championship.
UConn has almost two full weeks off until they start NCAA Tournament action at Gampel on Sunday, March 23.
Off to the next stage….