April 7, 2015, Tampa: After a 40-0 2014 National Championship that saw the UConn Women win it's 9th Title under Geno Auriemma, the 14-15' Huskies needed to replace Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley. New roles for everyone else that included Seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kia Stokes...The Junior Trio of Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson, now the point guard...and a freshman duo that featured Canadian Kia Nurse and an athletic, very raw forward in Gabby Williams. They lost an early game at Stanford in OT that left Geno Auriemma not trusting this group. But with every day in practice and in games as the season went on, the trust factor got better daily.
That included a big road win at #2 Notre Dame and in early February, a balanced, solid home win of Top Ranked South Carolina to get back the Number One Ranking.....And other than an electric Elite 8 win over Dayton in Albany, this Huskies Team rolled to the National Championship Game. The surprise opponent ? Notre Dame...No Skylar Diggins, no Kayla McBride and no Natalie Achonwa...But Jewell Lloyd, Makayla Mabrey, Madison Cable and a young Irish Team that included a talented post player in Brianna Turner made it way thru the ACC and got to the Title Game for the 4th time in five years,
The game started 11-11 six and a half minutes in. A 90 second stretch gave UConn the separation it needed. All American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis made a three, then a layup and Morgan Tuck's layup gave the Huskies a seven point lead. Every time the Irish got close, the Huskies scored to maintain the lead. That included a stretch where All American Breanna Stewart rolled an ankle on a drive to the basket...UConn led 31-23 at the half...Both teams shooting in the 30's...and UConn just 3 of 13 from long distance..
After Mabrey made a triple to open the second half, the Huskies reeled off seven straight, 4 by Kia Nurse and the Huskies quickly back up 12 at 38-26 three minutes in...The game then took on a theme six minutes in when Jewell Lloyd made a pair of free throws at 38-32...The Huskies started making dagger three's everytime the Irish got close. Jefferson at 41-32, Morgan Tuck put them back up 10 at 48-38, Jefferson when the D sagged top of the key at 51-42, then Kia Nurse out of the right corner at 54-46 with 7:08 remaining...The Irish again clawed back within 6 at 56-50 and had a chance to narrow the game to three, but a Jewell Lloyd drive was defended well by Stewie...Moriah Jefferson the rebound, off on the break and in patented UConn fashion, Mosqueda-Lewis drained the RW trailer three and the Huskies backup 9 at 59-50, deflating the Irish. Kay hit a foul line jumper and scored inside and UConn went up 13 to knock the Irish out as they'd win it 63-53.
Five big three's in the second half, Mosqueda's dagger the 398th of her record setting NCAA Career..and she finished with 2,178pts, tying her with Nykesha Sales....Moriah Jefferson should have been the Final Four MOP, she along with Kay finished w 15..Morgan Tuck added 12 and 7 assists and Stewart, while scoring 8..hauled down 15 boards and was named the Final Four MOP..she even admitted Mo should have been the MOP...
Three in a row for the second time in program history...All that was left in 2016 was to better it by one...
View the game at UConnHuskyGames.com