SAN ANTONIO, TX Before a record crowd of 29,619 to watch a collegiate womens basketball game, the University of Connecticut womens basketball team dismantled rival Tennessee, 79-56, to advance to the National Championship game against Oklahoma. The Huskies, with an undefeated 38-0 record, aim for their second perfect season in program history.
UConn opened with a traditional quick start. After Tennessees Brittany Jackson posted the games first points on a layup, UConn registered eight unanswered points to key a 13-2 run and sprint to the early 13-4 lead at the 14:38 mark.
The Lady Vols responded, cutting the lead to 13-9, before UConn answered with seven straight points. Again, Tennessee chipped away at the Husky advantage, narrowing the margin to five points at 20-15 on a layup by Shyra Ely with 9:23 remaining.
The five points would be as close as the Lady Vols would get to UConn for the remainder of the first half, as UConn proceeded to reel off a 16-5 run to open up its largest advantage of the half at 36-20 at the 2:14 mark.
Sophomore Diana Taurasi (Chino, CA), who had a career-high 32 points against Tennessee in the seasons first meeting between the two schools, registered eight points during the UConn run en route to 10 points in the half. Seniors Sue Bird (Syosset, NY) and Asjha Jones (Piscataway, NJ) also chipped in 10 points during the first half and Jones added eight rebounds.
The halftime score was 38-25 in favor of the Huskies. UConns relentless defense limited the Lady Vols to a 28.9 field goal percentage in the opening stanza.
To start the second half, the two teams played even in the first four minutes before UConn blew open the game with a devastating run. With the score 48-33 at the 16:47 mark, the Huskies recorded a 16-3 run to break to the 64-36 advantage with 10:57 remaining.
UConn would never look back, rolling to the 23-point victory, the most lopsided in the UConn-UT series history, and earning a spot in the National Championship game. The Huskies will be aiming for their third National Championship against Oklahoma, who defeated Duke, 86-71, in the nights first semifinal game.
Bird and Jones led UConn with 18 points apiece. Jones had her fifth double-double of the season, adding 10 rebounds to her point tally. Taurasi also posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds while senior Swin Cash (McKeesport, PA) contributed 13 points for the Huskies.
For the Lady Vols, who finish the season with a 29-5 record, Kara Lawson had nine points and Courtney McDaniel also chipped in nine points off the bench.
The National Championship game will be broadcast on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. EST Sunday night. Husky fans can watch the game from Gampel Pavilion. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and the viewing is open free of admission to the public.