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UConn reigns supreme, beats Notre Dame for ninth national championship

Undefeated UConn blew out Notre Dame, 79-58.

Andy Lyons

In a game that was a battle of two undefeated teams, UConn was able to open the game up in second half en route to 21-point blowout, 79-58.

"Tonight's game was incredibly disappointing for all of us, in particular the seniors," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. "I know how much they wanted it.  And I wanted it for them. But Connecticut was ‑‑ they just overpowered us.  They killed us inside.

"Their bigs were just too much for us. I thought Stewart was phenomenal.  And Dolson, 16 and 17 is pretty amazing."

The Huskies showed that not only were they the best team in the country; they proved that there is large margin between them and the rest of the college basketball world.

Early on, Breanna Stewart - the 6-foot-4 AP National Player of the Year with a 7-foot-1 wingspan - asserted herself early and often. Not to be forgotten was the great play of Stefanie Dolson who scored the game's first basket with a long two-point jumper. That opening basket seemed to galvanize UConn as they had struggled in the past few games early on.

"It's pretty nice, I gotta say," said Dolson. "Right from the beginning of the game we went in, took advantage of the size we had against them. And right when we realized what an advantage we had, we just kept kind of pushing it at them, and we never really backed down.

"Give a lot of credit to my guards.  They got me the ball.  Stewy, we got her the ball a lot in the post, too.  When we got it, we just did what we wanted and finished it."

"Tonight we were really aggressive and hitting shots starting the game," said Stewart. "That means a lot and helps you get into a good flow."

By the first media timeout, Dolson and Stewart had 10 of the Huskies' 12 points. And with that early offensive momentum, UConn seemingly looked like they were going to blow the game open. They had 12-point leads on a couple of occasion, but Notre Dame responded.

Senior All-American Kayla McBride started to assert herself, with an array of step back jump shots and drives to the basket - she had a look of sheer determination. By halftime, McBride had 13 of her 21 points.

Once the second half began, the Huskies offensive precision was just too much, as they were able to extend their lead. They went on an 18-4 run, which seemingly just took the sails out of the Fighting Irish.

The dominant display by UConn in the second half squelched any thoughts of Notre Dame winning their second National Championship. The swarming defense of the Huskies totally disarmed one of the most efficient offenses in the country. The Fighting Irish were held to just 58 points after scoring 81 points in the National semifinal.

"I said this the other day:  Notre Dame's the best team we played all year," said Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "No one else is even close.  And I knew it was going to take an unbelievable effort for us to beat them.I told Muffet after the game, I don't think she got enough credit.  She won Coach of the Year.

"But I don't think she even got enough credit for how her team performed all year-long."

That was an unbelievable team we played tonight.  And we played about as well as we played at any other time in the season for sure.

UConn had four players in double figures, led by Breanna Stewart's 21 points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 18, Dolson had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Bria Hartley had 13 points.

Jewell Loyd had 13 points while Michaela Mabrey had 10 points off the bench.

For more on UConn's run to the title, check out our 2014 Final Four storystream.