April 7, 2009
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Tina Charles (Jamaica, N.Y.) scored 25 points and pulled down 19 rebounds as the No. 1 seed University of Connecticut women's basketball team clinched its third perfect season and sixth NCAA National Championship in the program's history as the Huskies downed the No. 3 seed Louisville Cardinals 76-54 in the title game at the Scottrade Center on Tuesday night.
UConn becomes the first team in NCAA Division I Basketball history (male or female) to go undefeated and win each of its games by a margin of 10 points or more as its 22-point margin of victory ties the second-largest in an NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Game, falling just under Tennessee's 23-point win over Louisiana Tech on March 29, 1987.
The Huskies use tonight's victory to improve to 39-0 overall, their best season since finishing with the same record in 2002. UConn moves to 8-1 all-time against Louisville and are now 1-1 in NCAA Tournament games with the Cardinals as the BIG EAST foe ends their 2008-09 run with an overall record of 34-5.
The Huskies and Louisville traded baskets in the opening half of tonight's ballgame as there were six ties and seven lead changes.
UConn put together a 9-2 run midway through the first half, led by Charles with eight points to put the Huskies up 26-19. Charles and Montgomery combined for the next seven points for UConn to extend its advantage to nine points at 33-24.
Charles shot 7-of-9 from the field in the first half for 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to send the Huskies into the break with a 39-25 lead. The Huskies held Louisville to .270 (10-of-37) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play as UConn shot .455 (15-of-33) from the field but just 1-of-8 from behind the arc.
The Huskies took control of the game late in the frame and extended their lead to as much as 14 with their last basket of the half. UConn scored 22 of its 39 points in the paint and out-rebounded the Cardinals 26-22.
UConn opened the second half with a 7-0 run before Louisville scored their first points of the half on a layup by Monique Reid at the 15:14 mark.
During a span of 3:11 midway through the half, the Huskies were held without a point but the combined defensive efforts by Moore with two defensive rebounds and Kaili McLaren with two blocked shots kept the UConn lead over 17 points.
Charles lit up the floor in the second half as well, shooting 4-of-4 from the floor for 10 points with seven rebounds. She finished the night with her 13th double-double of the season as she shot 11-of-13 from the field with 15 defensive rebounds.
The Huskies outshot the Cardinals in the second frame with a .560 (14-of-25) showing, while Louisville shot just .355 (11-of-31) from the field. Louisville went cold from three-point land and shot just 4-of-11 on the night.
Moore netted 18 points for her 11th straight game with double-figure points this season and the 74th of her career, while Montgomery also finished with 18 points and four assists. Moore also added five assists and nine boards.
With the Huskies' sixth National Championship, they improve to 232-11 all-time when playing as the nation's No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll and to a perfect 18-0 in nationally-televised games this season.