ST. LOUIS (AP) - With one final blowout, UConn grabbed the
national title and a piece of basketball history.
Tina Charles had 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds Tuesday night
as UConn routed Louisville 76-54 and captured the Huskies' sixth
It wasn't just that Connecticut claimed another title. It was
how they did it.
UConn won every one of its 39 games by double digits, an
unprecedented run in college basketball.
Charles was the star of the last big win. She commanded both
ends of the floor and Louisville, which lost badly to UConn for the
third time this season, had no one who could stop her.
Coach Geno Auriemma had said before the tournament that his
junior center would be the key to UConn winning the title. A year
after he benched her in the NCAAs for inconsistent play, Charles
"I'm really happy for her," Auriemma said.
"I told Tina before the game, I said 'Sunday night you played
against an All-American center and you played defense and you
worked as hard as the best center in America and now you have to
prove it tonight' and she did."
She was 11-for-13 from the field, and fell just one rebound
short of becoming only the second player ever in a championship
game to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Charles was named
the outstanding player of the Final Four.
Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery each added 18 points for the
Angel McCoughtry finished off her stellar career for Louisville
with 23 points. Candyce Bingham was the only other Cardinal in
double figures with 10 points as Louisville (34-5) shot a dismal 31
percent from the floor.
Unlike its previous two wins over Louisville, it took about 15
minutes for UConn to begin pulling away from the Cardinals.
Leading by six, the Huskies turned up their defense. Louisville
missed 18 straight shots spanning the half as Connecticut turned a
30-24 lead into a 19-point advantage.
"It's the big stage, our first time playing in a national
championship game," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "The first
five minutes was what I was most concerned about. We went back and
forth and I felt really good about things. Then we started to rush
Louisville (34-5) came into its first title game with little
pressure. The Cardinals were big underdogs, bidding to knock off
three No. 1 seeds on their way to a championship.
Busloads of Louisville fans made the 250-mile trip to pull for
the Cardinals, and even though the game wasn't sold out for the
first time in 17 years, the matchup of Big East schools still had a
raucous feel to it.
But it was the Connecticut players celebrating at the end.
The victory put the Huskies in the same class as UConn's other
unbeaten teams, in 1995 and 2002. Besides Connecticut, only
Tennessee and Texas have run through a season without a loss.
The title was Connecticut's first since 2004. UConn was
suffering through its longest "drought" since first winning in
Only the Lady Vols, with eight titles, have more than the
With UConn's victory, the Big East also became the first
conference ever to sweep the NCAA and WNIT championships in the
same season. South Florida topped Kansas 75-71 on Saturday to win
the WNIT, which began in 1998.