TAMPA, Fla. (April 6, 2008) – The No. 1 seed University of Connecticut women's basketball team recorded just its second loss of the season as the Huskies broke a 15-game winning streak as they fell to No. 2 seed Stanford 82-73 in the 2008 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four on Sunday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
With the loss, UConn ends its season with a 36-2 overall record as Stanford improves to 35-3 with the win, while earning its first trip to the NCAA Tournament Championship since 1992 when the Cardinal won the NCAA National Championship title.
Stanford hit on 5-of-9 three pointers in the second half to pull away from the Huskies to take the Final Four win as the Huskies recorded a .388 (26-of-67) shooting percentage from the floor, including a .269 (7-of-26) from behind the arc.
The Huskies drop just their fifth NCAA Tournament game, moving their mark to 40-5 in tournament play, dating back to the 2000 season. UConn also falls to 5-4 in the National Semifinals as this was just its seventh loss (47-7 all-time record) all-time when playing in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed.
Stanford saw an early lead in the first half as the Cardinal shot .476 (10-for-21) from the floor in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Huskies shot just .353 (6-for-17) in that time span as Stanford connected on 12 points in the paint, compared to UConn's four.
The Cardinal took a nine point lead with 16 seconds left in the first half, to pick up their largest lead of the half. Despite just four turnovers for the Huskies, they finished the first 20 minutes of play down by seven as shooting percentage was a key to UConn's deficit. The Huskies shot just .397 (12-of-31) in the half while Stanford shot .421 (16-of-38). The Cardinal committed their one and only turnover of the half with 2:27 left on the clock as Jillian Harmon committed a holding foul at center court to give possession to the Huskies.
Stanford's Kayla Pedersen led all scorers in the first half with 10 points, while shooting 5-of-9 from the field. The Huskies were able to cut the lead to seven at 40-33 just before the break as senior Charde Houston (San Diego, Calif.) knocked down two free throws with 0.09 seconds on the clock.
Stanford began the second half with four turnovers in five possessions in the first two minutes of the half. The Huskies were able to pull to within one at 14:08 in the second half as the Huskies connected on three straight field goals but Stanford answered back with an 8-0 run to get back its nine point lead.
A three-point play by Candice Wiggins at the 5:24 on the clock extended the Cardinal lead to 10 at 66-56 before a Maya Moore (Lawrenceville, Ga.) three pointer and Ketia Swanier (Columbus, Ga.) jumper to cut the lead down to five. Again Stanford's impressive shooting from behind the arc brought the lead back to eight with 2:09 left in the game.
Stanford led by 12 with 1:21 to go in the game, their largest lead of the night. The Huskies held just one lead in tonight's game, a one point advantage coming in the first 1:30 of the game.
UConn tried to put a rally together with four free throws in the last minute of the game but missed 6-of-7 three point opportunities late in the game to deny the Huskies a chance to play in the National Championship game.
Moore finished the game with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-11 from three-point range, while Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W. Va.) added 15 points. Swanier tallied 13 points and five assists as Houston chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds in their final game with the UConn Huskies.
Stanford was led by Wiggins with her fourth double-double of the season as she recorded 25 points and 13 rebounds. Her rebounds all came at the defensive end for Stanford. Jayne Appel recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Pedersen added 17 points for the Cardinal.
Both programs tallied 26 points in the paint and recorded 10 points off turnovers. Stanford was able to out-rebound the Huskies 43-37, including a 32-26 rebound advantage in the second half. The Cardinal shot .444 (28-of-63) from the floor and just .381 (8-of-21) from three point range.
SCOREBOARD 1st 2nd Final 4/4 Stanford 40 42 82 1/1 Connecticut 33 40 73
- The Huskies drop just their fifth NCAA Tournament game, moving their mark to 40-5 in tournament play, dating back to the 2000 season.
- UConn moves to 58-36 against opponents ranked among the top 10 of the Associated Press poll following tonight’s loss to No. 4 Stanford.
- UConn drops to 13-7 all-time against opponents from the Pacific-10 Conference following tonight’s NCAA National Semifinal loss to Stanford.
- UConn moves to 65-15 all-time in NCAA Tournament play (over 20 appearances) following tonight’s national semifinal loss to Stanford.
- UConn's loss breaks a 15 consecutive game winning streak, following today’s NCAA National Semifinal loss to the Cardinal.
- UConn falls to 49-11 all-time in NCAA Tournament games when it received an automatic berth.
- UConn moves to 47-7 all-time when playing in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed.
- UConn has won 19 of its last 21 NCAA Tournament games when playing as a No. 1 seed, after tonight's loss.
- UConn moves to 2-2 all-time vs. opponents from the Pacific-10 in NCAA Tournament games following tonight’s loss to Stanford.
- UConn drops to 4-3 in the all-time series with Stanford and has won two of the last four meetings overall.
- UConn falls to 193-11 all-time when playing as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press poll.
- UConn moves to 13-2 in nationally-televised games this season following tonight’s loss to Stanford.
- UConn drops to 130-53 all-time against ranked opponents following tonight’s loss to No. 4 Stanford and have posted an 11-2 mark against ranked opponents in 2007-08.
Head Coach Geno Auriemma
"At this time of the year, especially in this environment, unless you win, there's really not a lot that you can say that's going to make any of the players up here, any of the players in the locker room feel any better. There's no words to describe what it means to put everything, your heart and soul into something and come up short.
The one thing I will say is it's unfortunate that the season comes down to one weekend and if it doesn't go your way, the other five months seem to have no meaning. And that's why this is such a difficult game to lose, or the next game if you lose that one, because all you remember now, today, at this point, is what happened in those 40 minutes. You don't remember all the things that led to getting here.
So I want them to remember the things that they did to get here and what our seniors accomplished. And life's thrown a lot of things at us this particular season. Took away two of our players. Limited one of them. And now the fairytale didn't have a happy ending. But that's life."
Senior Ketia Swanier
On getting into early foul trouble
"I mean, I thought Lorin came in and did what she had to do. Stanford just executed their offense very well and we didn't hit shots. We lost to a really good team."
Junior Renee Montgomery
On how much it hurt not have Mel Thomas and Kalana Greene in the game
"I think we missed them all year, but this game it really showed. We had to have shorter people guarding Candice a lot. She was able to get her shot off pretty much any time she wanted. In the beginning in the Virgin Islands when we had Kalana and Mel, it was tougher for her to get shots off. We missed them all year, but yeah, definitely it showed up tonight."
Freshman Forward Maya Moore
On what Stanford did successfully on defense
“It seemed like they were running kind of a sagging man (defense), they put maybe a little bit of triangle-and-two out there. But we’re used to running a fast-paced game, shooting quick shots, and they weren’t falling in the first half. If we’re not playing defense and we’re not scoring, that’s what’s going to happen, the lead is going to get bigger and bigger.”
On why Stanford won:
“They played better. They executed their offense better, and we didn’t make our shots.”
On UConn’s season as a whole:
“It’s been a great season. Up to this point we found a way to win every game until now. We found a way to win more games than we haven’t. We made it to a Final Four and only lost two games, that’s not too bad. But we’re definitely not satisfied with that.”
Sophomore Forward Kalli McLaren
On Stanford’s performance:
“They were perfect out there. I have never seen a team run so smoothly on the offensive and defensive end. They didn’t make any mistakes and we did and that was the game. They just executed better than us and made better decisions with the ball.”
On the team’s first half performance:
“We took quick shots a lot in the first half and that got us down. We were playing a lot more defense than we were playing offense. We should’ve slowed it down like they did. They didn’t force anything. They just played a flawless game. We couldn’t do anything.”
On how to get back to the Final Four next season:
“We know what we have to do, each individual and as a team. We had a good year this year and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t give our seniors a national championship.”
Senior Forward Charde Houston
On Stanford answering every run UConn made:
“That’s what happens. I can only say that they really improved since we played them in the Virgin Islands, and that’s what good teams do. We’re just used to doing things and other teams not having an answer, but I really commend them for sticking with it.”
Senior Center/Forward Brittany Hunter
On Stanford’s play:
“Every three was going in. It seemed like they had six players out there, and all of them shot 3s. I don’t know, it was just rough.”
On her last time in a UConn uniform:
“I don’t think anyone thought we really lost the game until the last, maybe 40-some seconds. We had just been in a worse situation with Rutgers and I just felt like everybody really believed. … I don’t know, we just couldn’t put it together.”