March 31, 2002
SAN ANTONIO, TX - Led by 20 points and 13 rebounds from Final Four MVP senior Swin Cash (McKeesport, PA), the University of Connecticut women's basketball team won its third National Championship with an 82-70 win over Oklahoma Sunday night in San Antonio, TX. The Huskies conclude the season with a perfect 39-0 record. The Sooners finish at 32-4.
After trading baskets with the Sooners in the game's first minute and a half, the Huskies reeled off eight unanswered points to race to the early 12-4 lead at the 16:08 mark, despite committing six turnovers in the first nine minutes of play.
Oklahoma took advantage of UConn's sloppy play to cut the Husky lead to three points on a jumper by LaNeishea Caufield that made the score 18-15 with 11:14 remaining.
The Huskies responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a jumper by senior Sue Bird (Syosset, NY) that gave UConn a 27-15 advantage at the 9:17 mark.
Undaunted by the Husky run, the Sooners slowly chipped into the lead, eventually narrowing the margin to 34-30 with 2:27 remaining, as UConn failed to record a field goal for over three minutes.
Bird stopped the Husky drought with a jumper at the 1:32 mark to key an 8-0 UConn run to end the half and bring the halftime score to 42-30, matching UConn's largest advantage of the game.
Cash led the Huskies with 13 points and seven rebounds at the break, as UConn pounded the Sooners on the boards for a 23-11 rebounding advantage. UConn also recorded a 60.0 field goal percentage in the first half but committed 11 turnovers.
After an evenly played first three minutes of the second half, Oklahoma narrowed the Husky lead to 48-38 before UConn registered six unanswered points to open its largest lead of the game at 54-38 with 15:34 remaining.
Led by All-American Stacey Dales, the Sooners refused to cave into the Huskies. Dales posted ten straight points for Oklahoma, who cut the lead to 58-47 at the 11:22 mark. A three-pointer by Rosalind Ross with 9:11 remaining narrowed the advantage to single digits for the first time in the second half at 62-53.
The Sooners continued to hang tough for the next six minutes, as two Caufield free throws brought the score to 71-65 at the 3:24 mark.
The score was 73-67 with 1:31 remaining when sophomore Diana Taurasi (Chino, CA), who struggled from the floor throughout the game, hit the shot that mattered most, a jumper from just inside the free throw line, and made the ensuing free throw to give UConn breathing room at 76-67.
From there, the Huskies would nail free throws down the stretch to take home their third National Championship in program history with the 82-70 win.
In addition to Cash, senior Asjha Jones (Piscataway, NJ) finished in double figures with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Bird added 14 points in her final collegiate contest. Taurasi had 13 points while senior Tamika Williams (Dayton, OH) chipped in 12 points.
For Oklahoma, Dales posted 18 points and Ross had 17.
Joining Cash on the Final Four All-Tournament Team were Bird and Jones as well as Ross and Dales from Oklahoma.
Fans of the Huskies are invited to greet the team at Bradley International Airport. The team is expected to arrive at Bradley at approximately 4:00 p.m. EST on Monday. Upon arrival at Bradley, there will be a short public event, rain or shine. That event will include remarks by UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and the team will also be in attendance.
The team also will return to Gampel Pavilion in Storrs for a Championship Prep Rally. The doors to Gampel Pavilion will open to the public at 4:30 p.m. and the team is expected to arrive in Storrs at approximately 5:30 p.m.