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Connecticut Huskies women's basketball

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Connecticut Huskies
2016–17 Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team
UConn Athletics wordmark.png
University University of Connecticut
First season 1974–75
All-time record 1,045–288 (.784)
Conference The American
Location Storrs, CT
Head coach Geno Auriemma (31st year)
Arena Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
(Capacity 10,167)
XL Center
(Capacity: 16,294)
Nickname Huskies
Colors National Flag Blue and White[1]
         
Uniforms
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Home jersey
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Team colours
Home
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Away jersey
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Team colours
Away
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Alternate jersey
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Team colours
Alternate
NCAA/AIAW Tournament champions
1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA/AIAW Tournament Final Four
1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA/AIAW Tournament Elite Eight
1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA/AIAW Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NCAA/AIAW Tournament appearances
1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Conference tournament champions
1989, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016
Conference regular season champions
1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016

The Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team is the college basketball program representing the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, in NCAA Division I women's basketball competition. They currently play in the American Athletic Conference, the successor of the Big East Conference, as the last remaining original member of the conference.

The UConn Huskies are one of the most successful women's basketball programs in the nation, having won a record 11 NCAA Division I National Championships (tied with the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team) and a women's record four in a row (2013–2016),[2] and over 40 conference regular season and tournament championships. The team also owns the longest winning streak in college basketball (both men's and women's) with 90 consecutive wins; the streak includes two of their record six undefeated seasons (2008–09 and 2009–10) and ended with a 71–59 loss to Stanford on December 30, 2010.[3]

UConn's current Head coach is Luigi "Geno" Auriemma, who joined the team in 1985, and as of May 2016 has guided it for 31 seasons. Coach Auriemma is one of the winningest coaches in college basketball: his 955–134 career record is the highest winning percentage (.877) among NCAA basketball coaches, any level, men's or women's, who have coached a minimum of 10 seasons.[4]

UConn has also been one of the leaders in women's basketball attendance; the team plays its home games at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut and the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

History[edit]

Early years (1974–1991)[edit]

After just one winning season in 10 years under coaches Sandra Hamm (1974–75), Wanda Flora (1975–80) and Jean Balthaser (1980–85), UConn hired as their new head coach the Italian-born Geno Auriemma, who had served as assistant coach at Virginia, with the goal of revitalizing the program. Auriemma's training skills had an immediate impact and the team showed steady signs of progress: after going 12–15 in his first season in 1985–86, Auriemma led UConn to winning seasons in 1986–87 and 1987–88.[5]

Auriemma pulled off one of his biggest and most important early recruiting successes in 1987 when he convinced an All American from New Hampshire, Kerry Bascom, to come to UConn. Bascom had an immediate impact on the UConn program: in 1989 she won the Big East Player of the Year award as a sophomore (she also won the award in her junior and senior years) and led UConn to its first Big East regular season and Tournament title, along with its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance; the tournament ended in a first round loss. With Bascom and teammates Laura Lishness, Megan Pattyson, Wendy Davis and Debbie Baer, UConn reached the NCAA Tournament again in 1990, losing 61–59 to Clemson in the second round after a first-round bye.[6]

In Auriemma's 6th season (1990–91) the program broke through on the national scene, again capturing the Big East regular season and Tournament titles, and earning a #3 seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, its highest seed up to then. UConn beat Toledo 81–80 at Gampel Pavilion in the opening round game, with Bascom scoring a team NCAA tournament single-game record 39 points, and moved on to the regionals at The Palestra in Auriemma's hometown of Philadelphia. Here the team upset heavily favored ACC power North Carolina State in the Sweet 16, and then defeated Clemson 60–57 to advance to their first-ever Final Four, also a first for any Big East school. UConn's season ended with a 61–55 loss to top-seeded Virginia in the national semifinals at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Bascom was hit with early foul trouble and Virginia held off a late UConn rally. Including these final tournament games, Bascom had set a new UConn scoring record with 2,177 points during her years at the school.[7]

Rebecca Lobo era (1992–1995)[edit]

1995 Championship trophy, ring, and signed ball

UConn followed up its surprise run to the Final Four in 1991 by landing All-American Rebecca Lobo from Southwick, Massachusetts.

UConn had modest success in Lobo's first 2 seasons, losing early in the NCAA Tournament in both seasons. In 1993–94, UConn had its most successful season to that point;[8] led by Lobo and teammates Jamelle Elliott, Jennifer Rizzotti, Pam Webber, Kara Wolters and Carla Berube, UConn won 30 games for the first time in program history, winning the Big East tournament and regular-season titles. In the NCAA tournament UConn reached the Elite Eight but came up short in its hopes to make it back to the Final Four, losing to eventual champion North Carolina.

1995 National Championship: undefeated (35–0)[edit]

With every major player back from 1994, and the addition of Auriemma's most highly ranked recruit to date (Connecticut Player of the Year Nykesha Sales), UConn was in for a season to remember in 1994–95.[9] The season started with an 80-point win over Morgan State; two weeks later, UConn defeated powerhouse North Carolina State by 23 points on the road. This season also saw the birth of one of the greatest rivalries in college sports, the UConn-Tennessee rivalry, that began when the two teams met for the first time on Martin Luther King Day at Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Tennessee 77–66 in front of a sold-out crowd in a game televised on ESPN and soon afterwards was ranked #1 in the polls for the first time in program history.

UConn went unbeaten through the Conference regular season and Tournament and easily advanced into the NCAA Tournament; in the regional final against Virginia a 4-points win in their closest game of the year opened the doors of the Final Four at the Target Center in Minneapolis.[10] UConn blew out Stanford in the semifinals behind Wolters' 31 points, reaching the championship game for a rematch against Tennessee. In the final game UConn found itself in early trouble when Lobo was called for three personal fouls in 94 seconds in the first half, but in the second half the team was able to rally from a 9-point deficit and a key Rizzotti layup gave UConn the lead with less than 2 minutes to go, a lead that the team kept until the final score of 70–64 and their first national title. Rebecca Lobo was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player.

With a perfect 35–0 record, UConn became only the fifth Division I women's basketball team to go undefeated en route to a national championship, and only the second in the NCAA era (since 1982). The Huskies also became the first unbeaten team in NCAA history (all divisions, men or women) to win 35 games in a season.[11]

The 1994–95 UConn team was widely credited with increasing interest in women's basketball.[12] The team was honored with a parade in Hartford, CT that drew over 100,000 spectators. The team won the Team of the Year Award at the ESPN ESPY awards that year, and Lobo became a popular symbol of the sport. UConn also signed a landmark deal during the season with Connecticut Public Television to broadcast their games.[13]

Lobo graduated in 1995 receiving countless accolades: the Naismith College Player of the Year award, the Wade Trophy, the Associated Press Women's College Basketball Player of the Year award, the USBWA Women's National Player of the Year award, the Honda-Broderick Cup, the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award (first basketball player ever), the Associated Press Athlete of the Year (second basketball player after Sheryl Swoopes), the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, the Academic All-America of the Year and also All-sports Academic All-America of the Year.

In 2010 Lobo became the first Connecticut player inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, among a class of six inductees,[14] followed by teammate Jennifer Rizzotti in the class of 2013.[15]

1995 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Maine 105–75
Second Round #8 Virginia Tech 91–45
Sweet Sixteen #4 Alabama 87–56
Elite Eight #3 Virginia 67–63
Final Four #2 Stanford 87–60
Championship #1 Tennessee 70–64

A new powerhouse is born (1996–2000)[edit]

After the 1995 Championship title, UConn rose to national prominence as one of the powerhouses in women's college basketball, giving coach Auriemma the chance to recruit star talents from high school like Shea Ralph in 1996 and Svetlana Abrosimova in 1997.

Escalation of rivalry with Tennessee[edit]

Starting with their two meetings in 1995, the rivalry between the Tennessee Lady Vols and UConn escalated through the late 90's and into the 2000s, becoming the marquee matchup in all women's sports, and taking on parallels to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in Major League Baseball. Geno Auriemma jokingly once referred to Pat Summitt and Tennessee as the "evil empire", like Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino said of the Yankees.[16]

In the 1995–96 season UConn ended Tennessee's home court winning streak at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville. Tennessee avenged itself in the Final Four that year in Charlotte, defeating UConn 88–83 in overtime; the game is often thought to be one of the more memorable tournament games in tournament history with many back and forth swings of momentum.[17]

UConn defeated Tennessee during the 1996–97 regular season; after a season-ending injury for Shea Ralph in the first round of the NCAA tournament, UConn reached the Regional Final where the two teams met again, with Tennessee prevailing and ending Connecticut's unbeaten season by winning 91–81.[18]

Tennessee defeated Connecticut again in the 1997–98 regular season. A mini controversy erupted in the days after the game when Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw was quoted in the papers as saying UConn looked scared during the game; Auriemma denounced that quote.[19] With Shea Ralph and senior Nykesha Sales out for the entire season, freshman Svetlana Abrosimova led a young UConn team to the NCAA Tournament Regional Final where they eventually lost to North Carolina State 60–52.

Nykesha Sales controversy[edit]

Auriemma found himself in a national debate following a decision he made during the 1997–98 season. Senior Nykesha Sales suffered a season-ending injury in one of the final games of the regular season. At the time of her injury, she was only one point shy of Kerry Bascom's school scoring record. The next game, with Bascom's blessing, and assistance from friend and Villanova head coach Harry Paretta, Auriemma arranged to have Sales, who was on crutches, score a basket and then allow Villanova to score a basket to start the game at 2–2. Sales then held the school scoring record.[20]

Many people weighed in on the decision on both a national and local levels. Auriemma felt guilty that he put Sales through the ordeal and was angry that some columnists chose to fault her and not him. Auriemma was criticized for compromising the integrity of the game, but defended the decision saying it was a school record and he would never had done it without Bascom's blessing.[21]

Arrival of the TASSK Force[edit]

Auriemma signed his best recruiting class in to date in 1998 when he signed five top-15 nationally ranked players. High school All-Americans Swin Cash, Tamika Williams, Sue Bird, Ashja Jones, and Keirsten Walters were dubbed "TASSK Force" by Connecticut fans, using the players' initials. The class renewed hope of bringing more championships to Storrs after watching arch rival Tennessee win three in a row.

The first season for the highly ranked class in 1998–99 was up and down and featured many injuries: Sue Bird tore her ACL and was lost for the season after only 10 games.

In the 1999 meeting at Gampel Pavilion, Tennessee prevailed again. During the game there was a scuffle involving Tennessee's Semeka Randall and Connecticut's Svetlana Abrosimova where Randall threw the ball down, hitting Abrosimova's head. UConn fans booed Randall the rest of the game and Tennessee fans later gave her the nickname "Boo."[22] The 1998–99 season ended in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament, where UConn lost 64–58 to Iowa State, falling short of reaching the Final Four for the third consecutive time.

2000 National Championship[edit]

Motivated by the previous disappointing season, UConn came back in 1999–2000 with the clear goal of reaching the championship level again. Led by upperclassmen Shea Ralph, Kelly Schumacher, Svetlana Abrosimova and the TASS Force (the K was dropped when Keirsten Walters had to give up basketball due to knee problems), UConn went through the regular season with a 27–1 record, their only loss being a single-point defeat to Tennessee at home—UConn had beaten Tennessee earlier in the season in Knoxville, and this was the first year the teams met twice. The Huskies advanced to their first Final Four since 1996 and beat Penn State in the semifinals, reaching the Lady Vols for the championship game in Auriemma's hometown of Philadelphia. Despite the two regular season meetings being close battles, UConn used tenacious defense and backdoor cuts to overwhelm Tennessee 71–52 for their second National Championship. Connecticut's final season record was 36–1 and Shea Ralph was named the Final Four's MVP.[23]

2000 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Hampton 116–45
Second Round #9 Clemson 83–45
Sweet Sixteen #5 Oklahoma 102–80
Elite Eight #3 LSU 86–71
Final Four #2 Penn State 89–67
Championship #1 Tennessee 71–52

Diana Taurasi era (2001–2004)[edit]

Diana Taurasi Naismith Award

Auriemma pulled off another huge recruiting coup when he convinced All-American guard Diana Taurasi to travel across country to attend Connecticut. Taurasi hailed from Chino, California, and attended Don Lugo High School where she was the recipient of the 2000 Cheryl Miller Award, presented by the Los Angeles Times to the best player in southern California. She was also named the 2000 Naismith and Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year. Taurasi finished her high school career ranked second to Cheryl Miller in state history with 3,047 points.[24]

With Taurasi joining the core of the 2000 Championship team, Auriemma confidently predicted another championship in 2001, but the season turned out to be more difficult than expected. UConn won the Big East Tournament over Notre Dame in a game remembered for the Bird at the Buzzer shot, but lost key players Abrosimova and Ralph to season-ending injuries.[25] As a consequence, Taurasi had to play a much larger role than anticipated in the NCAA Tournament. She led UConn to the Final Four, but in the national semifinals against Notre Dame in St. Louis, Taurasi had a poor shooting game, and despite UConn having attained a 16-point lead at one point, the team lost. Notre Dame went on to win its first National Championship.

2002 National Championship: undefeated (39–0)[edit]

As with the 2000 champions, who had also come off a disappointing loss the year before, UConn returned hungrier than ever in 2001–02. With the TASS force in their senior season and Taurasi emerging as a star in her sophomore year, UConn rolled through its opponents throughout the year. The only close game the Huskies played all year long was a win at Virginia Tech.

UConn advanced to the Final Four and outscored rival Tennessee in the semifinals by 23 points. In front of a record-breaking crowd at the Alamodome in San Antonio, UConn defeated Oklahoma for the championship 82–70 to complete a perfect 39–0 season. The starting five of Bird, Taurasi, Cash, Jones, and Williams is widely regarded as the best starting five in women's college basketball history.[26] The championship game that year shattered ratings for ESPN and at the time was the highest rated college basketball game to air on the network, men's or women's.[27]

2002 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 St. Fransis (PA) 86–37
Second Round #9 Iowa 86–48
Sweet Sixteen #4 Penn State 82–64
Elite Eight #7 Old Dominion 85–64
Final Four #2 Tennessee 79–56
Championship #1 Oklahoma 82–70

2003 National Championship[edit]

With the TASS force graduated, Diana Taurasi had to carry most of the load in her junior season, with help from returning teammates Maria Conlon, Jessica Moore and Ashley Battle and a top-ranked recruiting class of Ann Strother, Barbara Turner, Willnet Crockett and Nicole Wolff. With no seniors on the roster, 2003 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for UConn, but as the year progressed it became clear that Taurasi was up to the challenge of carrying a group of young players to the championship. UConn finished the regular season undefeated and established a 70-game winning streak, shattering the previous mark of 54 set by Louisiana Tech; the streak ended in the Big East championship game loss to Villanova.[28]

In the NCAA Tournament UConn easily advanced to the Final Four at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. UConn rallied from a 9-point deficit to beat Texas in the semifinals and, aided by Taurasi's 28 points in the finals, defeated rival Tennessee for UConn's fourth national championship. UConn became the first team to win a championship without a senior on their roster.[29][30]

2003 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Boston University 91–44
Second Round #9 TCU 81–66
Sweet Sixteen #5 Boston College 70–49
Elite Eight #2 Purdue 73–64
Final Four #2 Texas 71–69
Championship #1 Tennessee 73–68

2004 National Championship[edit]

2004 Championship trophy, ring, and signed ball

Although the entire team returned and expectations were sky high for a "three-peat" in Taurasi's senior year, UConn had an uneven season. The team gave up large leads against Duke and suffered losses to Notre Dame and Villanova, also losing to Boston College in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

The Huskies found their rhythm during the NCAA Tournament, in which they were a #2 seed; in the Elite Eight they beat top-seeded Penn State to advance to the Final Four at the New Orleans Arena. After beating Minnesota in the semifinals, UConn again defeated Tennessee for the National Championship. The win was even more special as the UConn men's basketball team won the men's national championship the previous night, marking the first time one University won both the men's and women's basketball championships in one season, a feat repeated in 2014.

In her career at UConn, Taurasi led the team to four consecutive Final Fours and three straight national titles. Prior to that final championship, her coach, Geno Auriemma, predicted his team's likelihood of winning with the statement, "We have Diana, and you don't."[31]

Taurasi received many personal accolades at UConn including the 2003 and 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year awards, the 2003 Wade Trophy, the 2003 Associated Press Women's College Basketball Player of the Year award, the 2003 USBWA Women's National Player of the Year award and the 2004 Best Female Athlete ESPY Award. Taurasi was the third basketball player to receive this final honor, after former UConn star Rebecca Lobo and Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw. She achieved legendary status among UConn fans, and is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time.[32]

2004 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #15 Pennsylvania 91–55
Second Round #7 Auburn 79–53
Sweet Sixteen #11 UC Santa Barbara 63–57
Elite Eight #1 Penn State 66–49
Final Four #7 Minnesota 67–58
Championship #1 Tennessee 70–61

Rebuilding years (2005–2007)[edit]

Relative to their high standards, UConn struggled during the first two years following Taurasi's graduation in 2004. Some of its highly touted recruits did not play up to expectations while others suffered injuries. Taken together during the three years 2005–2007, UConn never made a Final Four, something that has become almost routine (16 final fours in 22 years from 1995 to 2016).

The 2004–05 season was marked with sloppy play and ragged offense; UConn lost 8 games and failed to win the Big East regular season crown for the first time since 1993. In the NCAA tournament UConn lost to Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.[33]

In the 2005–06 season UConn showed some signs of improvement, winning the Big East Tournament and then beating Georgia in the Sweet Sixteen thanks to a fadeaway 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left by senior Barbara Turner.[34] Behind a home state crowd, UConn almost upset #1 ranked Duke in the regional final, before falling in overtime by 2 points.[35]

In 2006–07 the team improved with the additions of Renee Montgomery, Mel Thomas, Ketia Swanier, and #1 ranked high school player Tina Charles, helping UConn to emerge as a contender again. UConn was a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but eventually lost to LSU in the regional final to end the season with a 32–4 record.[36]

Maya Moore era (2008–2011)[edit]

After three down years by UConn standards, the team emerged as a heavy contender for the championship in the 2008 season. Every player returned from the 2007 team, and an important addition was #1 ranked high school player Maya Moore, who joined after a bitter recruitment battle for her between UConn and Tennessee. Shortly after Moore's commitment to UConn, Tennessee announced they were cancelling the annual series with UConn, bringing to an end one of the biggest rivalries in the sport. Both coaches have remained vague and unspecific as to why the series was canceled, but Tennessee did file a complaint to the NCAA about UConn's recruitment of Moore. UConn was found to have committed a secondary violation (involving a tour of the ESPN campus) and no punishment was handed out.[37][38]

Despite losing Mel Thomas and Kalana Greene to season-ending knee injuries, UConn went through the 2007–08 regular season with only a single loss at Rutgers, by two points, winning both the Big East regular season and tournament titles. Rallying from a 14-point deficit in the NCAA regional final they beat conference rival Rutgers and advanced to their first Final Four since Taurasi graduated. Those tournament successes were largely credited to senior Charde Houstona top recruit out of San Diego viewed as not living up to expectations from Geno Auriemma and the UConn fans up to that point) who came up with key rebounds and clutch points in those games.[39] In the Final Four played at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, UConn's lost to Stanford in the National semifinals, ending its season with a 36–2 record. This would be the team's last loss for quite some time.

2009 National Championship: undefeated (39–0)[edit]

The players, coaches, and other staff of the 2008–09 UConn Huskies, winners of the 2009 national championship, are honored at the White House by President Barack Obama on April 27, 2009.

For the third consecutive year UConn successfully recruited the top ranked high school player in Elena Delle Donne, but shortly before enrolling at UConn Delle Donne requested a release from her scholarship, giving up basketball in order to stay closer to home and play volleyball at the University of Delaware; Delle Donne would eventually play basketball at Delaware, having a great college career that culminated in the #2 pick at 2013 WNBA draft.[40] Despite losing Delle Donne the Huskies were ranked #1 in the preseason polls, having returned 10 players from the 2008 Final Four team (including All-Americans Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles), in addition to Kalana Greene who recovered from her knee injury.

UConn finished the regular season undefeated for the 5th time in school history with a 30–0 record. They won their 17th Big East Regular Season title and their 15th Big East Tournament title beating the Louisville Cardinals. The Huskies advanced to their 10th Final Four with an 83–64 victory over Arizona State, and then to the 6th NCAA Championship Game in program history by defeating Stanford, also by the score of 83–64. In the Championship Game UConn defeated Louisville 76–54 behind Charles' 25 points and 19 boards, ending the season with a perfect 39–0 record (with every victory by at least 10 points, a record of its own) and sixth national title.[41]

2009 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Vermont 104–65
Second Round #8 Florida 87–59
Sweet Sixteen #4 California 77–53
Elite Eight #6 Arizona State 83–64
Final Four #2 Stanford 83–64
Championship #3 Louisville 76–54

2010 National Championship: undefeated (39–0)[edit]

For the second consecutive year (and the sixth time in school history) UConn finished the regular season undefeated, with an average margin of victory of 35.9 points. During the regular season UConn played 11 games against ranked opponents (including 6 in the top ten) with an average margin of victory of 24. They dominated the Big East Tournament, winning the championship game 60–32. Throughout the regular season and the Big East Tournament, UConn's closest win was against Stanford, by 12 points.

Whitehouse ceremony commemorating 2010 NCAA National Champions Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team
2010 NCAA National Champions Connecticut Huskies at the White House

Leading up to the Final Four in San Antonio, UConn dominated teams from Southern, Temple, Iowa State and Florida State. Maya Moore and Tina Charles played little more than half the minutes of every game, with Moore averaging one point per minute played, and the team outscoring its opponents by an average of 47 points. In the Final Four UConn was finally challenged by Baylor and the 6-foot-8 freshman Brittney Griner;[42] Baylor trailed 39–26 at halftime but UConn finally pulled away for a final score of 70–50.

The National Championship Game against Stanford was a completely different story. UConn started the game with its worst first half in school history by scoring only 12 points; only eleven teams in tournament history have been held to 12 points or less in the first half: three of them were against UConn teams, and two of them (Southern and Temple) just days earlier in the 2010 Tournament. Stanford itself only managed to score 20 points in the first half. Maya Moore gave UConn the lead (23–22) in the second half with a three-pointer and led the team on a scoring run of 30–6 that eventually secured the national championship with a final score of 53–47.[43] It was the only game in the Huskies' 78-game winning streak that was won by fewer than 10 points. Moore was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player, to go along with her second straight Wade Trophy award and Academic All-America of the Year award. Charles, who won the John R. Wooden Award and Naismith College Player of the Year awards,[44] was chosen first overall in the WNBA draft days later.[45]

2010 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Southern 95–39
Second Round #8 Temple 90–36
Sweet Sixteen #4 Iowa State 74–36
Elite Eight #3 Florida State 90–50
Final Four #4 Baylor 70–50
Championship #1 Stanford 53–47

A new record, but no three-peat[edit]

The 2010–11 season began with high hopes but much uncertainty for the Huskies. Maya Moore returned for her senior season after a summer with the U.S. National team, but UConn lost major contributors Tina Charles and Kalana Green who graduated in 2010. Additionally, junior guard Caroline Doty would be out the entire season due to a third knee injury. In an early test, UConn squeaked by #2 Baylor in their second game of the season. They powered their way through 8 more consecutive wins for their 88th straight victory, beating #10 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden. Their 89th win came at home against #20 Florida State to set the college basketball record for most consecutive wins, previously held by the UCLA men's team. After a break in the schedule for the holidays, UConn traveled out west and beat the Pacific Tigers to stretch the streak to 90 games.[46] That game, however, was largely a warm-up match for their biggest test of the season, a December 30 matchup at the powerhouse Stanford Cardinal. UConn trailed for the entire game and lost for the first time since their April 6, 2008 Final Four appearance (also against the Cardinal). The loss ended the highly publicized winning streak, as well as their long held spot as the top ranked team in women's basketball which was taken over by Baylor. Connecticut recovered focus after the loss and got through the rest of the regular season undefeated, regaining the #1 ranking along the way after Baylor's loss to Texas Tech in February. They marched through the Big East tournament, including their 3rd victory of the year over Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament Championship Game.

In the NCAA tournament Final Four UConn met Notre Dame for the fourth time of the season, with the underdog Fighting Irish prevailing and ending UConn's bid for a third straight National Championship. The keys to Notre Dame's success were the stellar performance of sophomore Skylar Diggins and the hot shooting (over 50 percent from the field, a first against UConn in its last 262 games), while UConn had a lack of support for Moore's 36 points.[47] Notre Dame went on to the National Championship Game, but were defeated by the Texas A&M Aggies.

During 2010–11 season Maya Moore posted career highs in scoring (22.3 ppg), assists (4.1 apg) and steals (2.2 spg), sweeping all possible individual honors: she won her 2nd Naismith College Player of the Year award, her 3rd straight Wade Trophy (only player in history - freshmen are not eligible for this award), her 2nd Associated Press Women's College Basketball Player of the Year award, her 2nd USBWA Women's National Player of the Year award and her 2nd John R. Wooden Award; she was also voted Big East Player of The Year (3rd time) and a fourth straight unanimous First-Team All-American in WBCA, USBWA and AP polls (second player ever after Oklahoma's Courtney Paris).

In her amazing college career Maya Moore won 150 games and only lost 4, amassing a total 3036 points (1st Husky ever and 4th all-time in NCAA division I women's basketball), 1276 rebounds (2nd Husky ever), 310 steals (3rd Husky ever), 544 assists (6th Husky ever) and 204 blocks (4th Husky ever); she is the only women’s basketball player in Division I history to record 2500 points, 1000 rebounds, 500 assists, 250 steals and 150 blocked shots. On February 28 she was enshrined in the Huskies of Honor (3rd time ever for an active player).

Maya Moore was also a brilliant college student: she graduated with a 3.7 GPA, earning the Elite 88 Award, and was named Cosida Academic All-America First-Team in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Cosida Academic All-America of the Year in 2010 and 2011 (1st player to ever repeat) and All-sports Academic All-America of the Year in 2011.[48]

After graduation Maya Moore was selected by the Minnesota Lynx as the 1st overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft (4th time for a Husky), also becoming the first female basketball player signed to the Jordan Brand.[49]

The UConn Women's Basketball team is greeted by President Obama at the White House

The calm before the storm (2012)[edit]

The 2011–12 season would inevitably be a new era after Maya Moore's graduation. Her absence and the loss of 6th-man Lorin Dixon left significant holes to fill in the roster. Geno Auriemma seemed to find the right pieces with a freshman class that included Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Brianna Banks and Kiah Stokes. Mosqueda-Lewis was another State Farm/WBCA High School Player of the Year for UConn,[50] Banks was a highly rated guard,[51] and Stokes, a 6'3 post player, was highly ranked as well.

Even if the Huskies were still a strong national contender, they were no longer viewed as a favorite to win it all. Two key rivals were the usual conference foe Notre Dame and the new rival Baylor, who had the nation's top player in Brittney Griner. In December Griner led #1 ranked Baylor against #2 UConn, scoring 25 points to go along with nine blocks. The 66–61 loss was UConn's first of the season, but not its last. Notre Dame, led by junior star Skylar Diggins, beat the Huskies twice in the regular season, but UConn was able to reverse the roles in the Big East Tournament Championship Game; the win was the school's 15th conference title, as well as the 800th career win for coach Geno Auriemma. Ultimately Notre Dame found its revenge with an upset win in the NCAA Tournament Final Four, ending the season with a 3–1 record against the Huskies, a record that would be repeated the following year.

Breanna Stewart era (2013–2016)[edit]

2013 National Championship[edit]

The 2012–13 season began with high hopes having UConn landed three highly ranked recruits: #1 overall Breanna Stewart from Syracuse High School, forward Morgan Tuck and guard Moriah Jefferson. Their play was uneven during the regular season, where UConn went 27–3 with a loss to Baylor and a pair of losses to Notre Dame (including a three-overtime game in South Bend); in the Big East tournament UConn lost a third straight time to Notre Dame that delivered a last-minute comeback. In the NCAA tournament UConn key-players Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Stefanie Dolson and senior Kelly Faris raised their level of play, and UConn easily advanced to the Final Four; in the semifinals they handily beat Notre Dame and in the finals they obtained a 93–60 win over Louisville, who had earlier upset Baylor, for a record tying eighth national championship.

The end of 2012–13 season saw the breakup of the Big East Conference. First Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame defected to the Atlantic Coast Conference, with Louisville announcing later they would follow in 2014. Then, the non-FBS football playing members of the Big East (Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John's), known colloquially as the "Catholic 7", left to form their own conference, taking the conference name with them. The remaining teams of the former Big East (Connecticut and Cincinnati) joined the new American Athletic Conference (AAC), thus ending the UConn–Notre Dame rivalry in conference tournaments.

2013 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Idaho 105–37
Second Round #8 Vanderbilt 77–44
Sweet Sixteen #4 Maryland 76–50
Elite Eight #2 Kentucky 83–53
Final Four #1 Notre Dame 64–57
Championship #5 Louisville 93–60

2014 National Championship: undefeated (40–0)[edit]

With Faris and Doty graduated, sophomore Breanna Stewart was the undisputed leader of the 2013–14 UConn team, starting in all 40 games and leading the team with 19.4 points and 2.8 blocks per game; her 291 field goals made was the third-highest single-season total in UConn annals.

The team beat every opponent by at least 10 points and easily reached the NCAA tournament finals, where they met unbeaten Notre Dame, making it the first ever match up of two undefeated teams in the championship game. UConn defeated 79–58 Notre Dame (hindered by the loss of one of their stars, Natalie Achonwa, who had torn her ACL in the Elite Eight), to finish the season 40–0, tying Baylor for the most wins in a season and setting the new record for Championship with nine.[52] Breanna Stewart was named the AP Player of the year, only the third time in history a sophomore has won the honor.

2014 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Prairie View A&M 87–44
Second Round #9 St. Joseph's 91–52
Sweet Sixteen #12 BYU 70–51
Elite Eight #3 Texas A&M 69–54
Final Four #2 Stanford 75–56
Championship #1 Notre Dame 79–58

2015 National Championship[edit]

The 2014–15 regular season started with an overtime loss to Stanford in the second game of the season, ending a 47-games winning streak for UConn. Led by juniors Stewart and Jefferson and senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn quickly recovered winning every other season game, including a 76–58 win against rival Notre Dame. In the National Tournament, both Connecticut and Notre Dame were seeded first in their respective playoff brackets; each advanced to the Final Four held in Tampa, Florida. Connecticut defeated Maryland 81–58, while Notre Dame narrowly beat South Carolina, 66–65, in the semifinals.

The teams met again on April 7, 2015 in the National Championship game. UConn won by a score of 63–53 to win their third straight national championship and tenth total, with coach Auriemma tying a record set by John Wooden in college basketball.[53]

2015 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 St. Francis Brooklyn 89–33
Second Round #8 Rutgers 91–55
Sweet Sixteen #5 Texas 105–54
Elite Eight #7 Dayton 91–70
Final Four #1 Maryland 81–58
Championship #1 Notre Dame 63–53

2016 National Championship: undefeated (38–0)[edit]

In 2015 UConn landed another top recruit in #1 High School prospect Katie Lou Samuelson; she quickly earned a spot in the starting five alongside sophomore Kia Nurse and seniors Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck. The team was unbeatable all season long, beating every opponent by an average of 39.7 points, and easily winning conference regular season and tournament. While other #1 seeds Notre Dame, South Carolina and Baylor suffered early upsets in the NCAA Tournament, UConn easily advanced to the Final Four where they defeated Oregon State 80–51 and then old Big East rival Syracuse 82–51 in the Championship Game. UConn completed their sixth undefeated season winning the 11th overall Championship (all-time record for both men's and women's college basketball) and 4th in a row (also a record for women's college basketball). Geno Auriemma is now the only coach in college basketball to have won 11 titles, passing UCLA legend John Wooden (who has 10) and reaching former NBA coach Phil Jackson.[54]

Senior Breanna Stewart was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player for a record 4th straight time; she also performed a back-to-back sweep of all individual honors, winning her 2nd straight Wade Trophy, a record 3rd Associated Press Women's College Basketball Player of the Year award, a record 3rd USBWA Women's National Player of the Year award, a record 3rd Naismith College Player of the Year award and her 2nd straight John R. Wooden Award. Stewart finished with 2.676 points (2nd Husky ever), 1.179 rebounds (4th Husky ever), 426 assists and 414 blocked shots (1st Husky ever), and was a #1 pick in 2016 WNBA draft.[55] Moriah Jefferson finished with a program-record 659 assists and a back-to-back Nancy Lieberman Award as best point guard in the nation. The trio of Stewart-Jefferson-Tuck ended its college career with a 151–5 record, the most victories for college basketball players; they are the only 4-time winners in college basketball history (freshmen were not eligible to play during UCLA men's streak). With their eleventh championship win in 2016, the UConn Huskies have tied the UCLA Bruins men's team for most college basketball championships, and became the first Division I women's basketball team to win four straight national championships.[2]

2016 NCAA Tournament
Round Opponent Score
First Round #16 Robert Morris 101–49
Second Round #9 Duquesne 97–51
Sweet Sixteen #5 Mississippi State 98–38
Elite Eight #2 Texas 86–65
Final Four #2 Oregon State 80–51
Championship #4 Syracuse 82–51

Season by season results[edit]

Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Sandra Hamm (Yankee Conference) (1974–1975)
1974–75 Sandra Hamm 2–8 0–2
Sandra Hamm: 2–8 (.200) 0–2 (.000)
Wanda Flora (Yankee Conference) (1975–1980)
1975–76 Wanda Flora 7–12 0–3
1976–77 Wanda Flora 7–13 0–3
1977–78 Wanda Flora 7–13 1–3
1978–79 Wanda Flora 8–13 2–5
1979–80 Wanda Flora 9–15 0–3
Wanda Flora: 38–66 (.365) 3–17 (.150)
Jean Balthaser (Yankee Conference) (1980–1982)
1980–81 Jean Balthaser 16–14 1–5
1981–82 Jean Balthaser 9–18 1–8
Jean Balthaser (Big East Conference) (1982–1985)
1982–83 Jean Balthaser 9–18 1–7 9th
1983–84 Jean Balthaser 9–20 0–8 9th
1984–85 Jean Balthaser 9–18 3–13 8th
Jean Balthaser: 52–88 (.371) 6–41 (.128)
Geno Auriemma (Big East Conference) (1985–2013)
1985–86 Geno Auriemma 12–15 4–12 7th
1986–87 Geno Auriemma 14–13 9–7 7th
1987–88 Geno Auriemma 17–11 9–7 5th
1988–89 Geno Auriemma 24–6 13–2 1st NCAA 1st Round
1989–90 Geno Auriemma 25–6 14–2 T–1st NCAA 2nd Round
1990–91 Geno Auriemma 29–5 14–2 1st NCAA Final Four
1991–92 Geno Auriemma 23–11 13–5 T–2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1992–93 Geno Auriemma 18–11 12–6 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1993–94 Geno Auriemma 30–3 17–1 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1994–95 Geno Auriemma 35–0 18–0 1st NCAA Champions
1995–96 Geno Auriemma 34–4 17–1 1st NCAA Final Four
1996–97 Geno Auriemma 33–1 18–0 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1997–98 Geno Auriemma 34–3 17–1 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1998–99 Geno Auriemma 29–5 17–1 T–1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1999–2000 Geno Auriemma 36–1 16–0 1st NCAA Champions
2000–01 Geno Auriemma 32–3 15–1 T–1st NCAA Final Four
2001–02 Geno Auriemma 39–0 16–0 1st NCAA Champions
2002–03 Geno Auriemma 37–1 16–0 1st NCAA Champions
2003–04 Geno Auriemma 31–4 14–2 1st NCAA Champions
2004–05 Geno Auriemma 25–8 13–2 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2005–06 Geno Auriemma 32–5 14–2 2nd NCAA Elite Eight
2006–07 Geno Auriemma 32–4 16–0 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2007–08 Geno Auriemma 36–2 17–1 1st NCAA Final Four
2008–09 Geno Auriemma 39–0 16–0 1st NCAA Champions
2009–10 Geno Auriemma 39–0 16–0 1st NCAA Champions
2010–11 Geno Auriemma 36–2 16–0 1st NCAA Final Four
2011–12 Geno Auriemma 33–5 13–3 3rd NCAA Final Four
2012–13 Geno Auriemma 35–4 14–2 2nd NCAA Champions
Geno Auriemma (American Athletic Conference) (2013–present)
2013–14 Geno Auriemma 40–0 18–0 1st NCAA Champions
2014–15 Geno Auriemma 38–1 18–0 1st NCAA Champions
2015–16 Geno Auriemma 38–0 18–0 1st NCAA Champions
Geno Auriemma: 955–134 (.877) 456–61 (.888)
Total: 1,045–288 (.784)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Head coaches[edit]

  • Sandra Hamm, 1974–1975
  • Wanda Flora, 1975–1980
  • Jean Balthaser, 1980–1985
  • Geno Auriemma, 1985–present

Notable players[edit]

Individual achievements[edit]

UConn featured a great number of star players, All-Americans, Hall of Famers and recipients of individual trophies. The following table shows the UConn players recipients of the 5 major individual awards in women's college basketball.

Player Wade Trophy
(since 1978)
Naismith College Player of the Year
(since 1983)
USBWA Women's National Player of the Year
(since 1988)
AP College Player of the Year
(since 1995)
John R. Wooden Award
(since 2004)
Rebecca Lobo 1995 1995 1995 1995
Jennifer Rizzotti 1996 1996
Kara Wolters 1997
Sue Bird 2002 2002 2002 2002
Diana Taurasi 2003 2003
2004
2003 2003
Tina Charles 2010 2010 2010 2010
Maya Moore 2009
2010
2011
2009
2011
2009
2011
2009
2011
2009
2011
Breanna Stewart 2015
2016
2014
2015
2016
2014
2015
2016
2014
2015
2016
2015
2016

After the end of the NCAA tournament, the Associated Press selects a Most Outstanding Player. Seven UConn players received this award since its induction in 1982: Rebecca Lobo (1995), Shea Ralph (2000), Swin Cash (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003 and 2004), Tina Charles (2009), Maya Moore (2010) and Breanna Stewart for a record 4 times (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).

School records[edit]

Statistics correct through the 2015–16 season[56]

Huskies of Honor[edit]

The Huskies of Honor is a program recognizing the most significant figures in UConn history.

The women's basketball players list includes guards Nykesha Sales, Jennifer Rizzotti, Shea Ralph, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Renee Montgomery, Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson; forwards Svetlana Abrosimova, Swin Cash, Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck; centers Kerry Bascom, Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, Tina Charles and Stefanie Dolson.

WNBA success[edit]

Twenty UConn players have been selected in the first round of WNBA drafts. Five of them have been first overall picks: Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010), Maya Moore (2011), and Breanna Stewart (2016). Rebecca Lobo was part of the 1997 inaugural draft, with the top players allocated to founding teams whitout any particular order; similarly Nykesha Sales was part of the 1998 WNBA expansion players allocation.

In the 2002 WNBA Draft, the four UConn players tabbed "TASS Force" (Tamika Williams, Asjha Jones, Sue Bird and Swin Cash) were all first round selections, each of them having immediate impacts with their 2002 WNBA Teams.[57]

In the 2016 WNBA Draft UConn performed even better, with the 3 seniors Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck sweeping the first 3 picks for the first time in the history of any major sport.[58]

2015–16 roster[edit]

2015–16 Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Year Home town
G 2 Pulido, BrianaBriana Pulido 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m) Sr Miami, FL
F 3 Tuck, MorganMorgan Tuck 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) RS Jr Bolingbrook, IL
G 4 Jefferson, MoriahMoriah Jefferson 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m) Sr Glenn Heights, TX
G 11 Nurse, KiaKia Nurse 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) So Hamilton, ON
G 12 Chong, SaniyaSaniya Chong 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) Jr Ossining, NY
G 15 Williams, GabbyGabby Williams 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) So Sparks, NV
G 20 Lawlor, TierneyTierney Lawlor 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m) Jr Ansonia, CT
G 22 Ekmark, CourtneyCourtney Ekmark 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) So Phoenix, AZ
G/F 23 Collier, NapheesaNapheesa Collier 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Fr O' Fallon, MO
F 30 Stewart, BreannaBreanna Stewart 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Sr North Syracuse, NY
G/F 33 Samuelson, Katie LouKatie Lou Samuelson 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Fr Huntington Beach, CA
C 51 Butler, NatalieNatalie Butler 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) RS So Fairfax Station, VA
Head coach

Geno Auriemma

Assistant coach(es)

Chris Dailey
Shea Ralph
Marisa Moseley


Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • (W) Walk-on

Roster
Last update: March 14, 2016

Trophies and awards[edit]

  • 11 NCAA/AIAW Tournament Championships (1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
  • 18 Big East Tournament Championships (1989, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  • 3 AAC Tournament Championships (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • 19 Big East Regular Season Championships (1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • 3 AAC Regular Season Championships (2014, 2015, 2016)

Team of the Decade 2000–2009

In 2010 Sports Illustrated selected the top 25 sports franchises of the decade 2000–2009. The sports under consideration were the four major professional sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) along with the three most prominent college sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The Connecticut Huskies were the #3 selection on the list, only behind the professional basketball Lakers and the professional football Patriots, making the Connecticut women's basketball team the highest ranked of the collegiate teams for the three sports under consideration.[59] During this period, UConn won five national titles, while making the Final Four seven of the ten years. Two of the seasons (2001–02 and 2008–09) resulted in perfect 39–0 records.

Records and achievements[edit]

  • Most NCAA Division I Championships, women's (11)
  • Most consecutive Elite Eights, men's or women's (11, 2006–2016)
  • Most consecutive Final Fours, women's (9, 2008–2016)
  • Most consecutive Championships, women's (4, 2013–2016)
  • Most consecutive wins, men's or women's (90, 2008–2010)
  • Most consecutive NCAA tournament wins, women's (24, 2013–2016)
  • Most 30-win seasons in NCAA/AIAW play, women's (21)
  • Most undefeated seasons, men's or women's (6: 1994–95, 2001–02, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2013–14, 2015–16)

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External links[edit]