Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma joined John Wooden atop the coaching ledger with his 10th national championship, as the Huskies defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 63-53 on Tuesday night.
Auriemma is now 10-0 in national title games. The Huskies’ victory gives Auriemma three titles in the row for second time in his career, he also won three consecutive national crowns (2001-02 thru 2003-04). Auriemma now has two more titles than legendary Tennessee coach, Pat Summitt.
Wooden, known as the Wizard of Westwood, became a coaching legend after leading UCLA to 10 national championships in a 12-year stretch (1963-64 thru 1975-75), according to Kyle Ringo of the Daggar. The Bruins finished third and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament in the other two years.
“I’ll be the first to say, I’m not John Wooden,” Auriemma said in his post-game interview with ESPN. “I’ve got a bunch of friends that would tell that I’m right. I’m not. But as I said the other day, I just think what we’ve done here the last 20 years is pretty remarkable in its own right.”
Auriemma’s first national title came during the 1994-1995 season. While it has taken Auriemma 21 years to match Wooden’s total, he has been on a remarkable run. Auriemma’s Huskies won 90 straight contests between 2008 and 2010.
The Huskies made the NCAA tournament in each of the 11 years that they didn’t win the national championship. They were eliminated in the Sweet 16 (twice), Elite Eight (four times), and thee national semifinals (five times).
Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and junior Moriah Jefferson scored 15 points to lead the Huskies last night. Breanna Stewart, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, chipped in with eight points and 15 rebounds while Morgan Tuck added 12 points.
“I know we’ve won a lot of these but I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of a group of kids that I am of this group because I didn’t trust them in the beginning of the season,” Auriemma said in his postgame ESPN interview. “I didn’t trust them one bit…Each day they got more trustworthy themselves I think that just culminated tonight.”
The Huskies (38-1) won 37 straight games after falling to Stanford 88-86 in overtime. Their loss to Stanford was the only game decided by single digits that the Huskies were involved in.
UConn finished the season with the highest margin of victory in NCAA history, winning games by over 40 points a game. The Huskies averaged 89.3 points and surrendered 48.6 points a game.
Auriemma is 918-134 overall, including 103-17 in the NCAA tournament. Auriemma has led the Huskies to 16 Final Four Appearances and 27 total NCAA tournament appearances.
[photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]