If you ask Geno Auriemma which team is the best team in UConn Women's Basketball History, he'll tell you that the 2002 team is his choice. The starting five rolls off like butter, Bird, Taurasi, Williams, Cash & Jones. Dominant and fun to watch, to the point where Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt visited the UConn locker room to congratulate the Huskies on their dominating performance against the Lady Vols in the Final Four in San Antonio.
Oklahoma awaited the Huskies in the Title Game. The two teams played just before Christmas in Hartford and the Huskies front line dominated with a 86-52 win. The Sooners were one of the great stories when Sherri Coale and OU brought back Women's Basketball from the dead in 1996 to the Championship Game in 2002. Stacey Dales, a Canadian was an All American for the Sooners, they beat Duke in the Final Four and it was game on on Easter Sunday at the Alamodome.
The Game was tied twice...at two and four....and that's it. An 8-0 run where the UConn frontcourt took charge early. Williams to Cash inside, Cash a putback, Williams a putback and Jones a foul line jumper. They set the tone for the game, just as they did in December. The Sooners with the three ball, hung in there. But at 34-30, National Player of the Year Sue Bird took over, four points and a gorgeous assist in a half ending 8-0 that put the Huskies up 12 at the break. Despite turning the ball over 11 times...
The lead grew to 54-38 five minutes in, without the benefit of a three. More on that later...62-53 with 9:05 left and Oklahoma slowly gnawing away at the Huskies. 68-60 with 6 minutes left, then at the under 4 timeout (3:24) all the way back to 71-65. 29,619 at the Alamodome, many of them Sooner fans were in a frenzy thinking a comeback for the ages. But the Huskies would have none on it. Following an offensive rebound by Swin Cash, Geno Auriemma called for time to draw up a play. It was easy who was getting the ball, Diana Taurasi. The Sophomore and most talented player on the Huskies, got a clearout on the left side of the floor and backed her defender down. One more power dribble, turn left, power up and score. Stacey Dales, who scored 18 for Oklahoma, came over to help late and fouled out to make it a three point play that in effect put the dagger in the Sooner's Hearts as UConn won 82-70.
The Frontcourt was devastating...As Cash, the Final Four MOP after an awful regional, had a 20p-13r double-double. Jones had 19-9 and 5 blocks...Williams 12p-9r...The Bird Taurasi duo added 8 assists. BUT, the Huskies were 0-9 from 3. One of only two times the Huskies haven't made a 3 in a game in forever !! The Huskies owned the glass to the tune of 44-29 rebounding margin. 44-22 in the paint and 24-11 second chance points. The win capped a 39-0 season where the Huskies beat every team by double digits. The 12 point margin in the Title game the second lowest (at Va Tech by 10) margin of the season.
The senior quartet, led by Bird at #1 to Seattle in the WNBA draft, all went by pick #6. And two years later, Taurasi was the Top pick by Phoenix. And by WNBA Titles, and Olympic Golds, this group cashed in big time. In fact the Bird-Taurasi duo may go down as the best backcourt of all time. Argue what want, the 2002 Huskies have set the standard to watch all UConn Women's Teams are measured....
watch this game at UConnHuskyGames.com