On this day in UConn history: A double dip of national championships

Published on Tuesday, 7 April 2020 14:44
Written by Neill Ostrout and Carl Adamec

Journal Inquirer

There may not be a March Madness this year, but UConn has a rich history in the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments. Here are some of the Huskies’ memorable moments.

MEN: APRIL 7, 2014

Kevin Ollie always loved playing in Dallas. The former UConn point guard, assistant coach and head coach spent most of his formative years in Los Angeles, but technically was born in Dallas and loved returning with his Huskies.

So much so, that when the 2013-14 regular season ended, Ollie had already made plans for his team to be in the Dallas area for the Final Four, not that many outsiders shared his optimism.

Ollie was right. UConn made it all the way to the title game in Arlington, Texas, and on April 7 beat Kentucky 60-54 to claim the program’s fourth national title.

UConn became one of the more unlikely champions in NCAA history. It was the first No. 7 seed ever to win the title (and denied Kentucky the chance to become just the second No. 8 seed ever to win).

Star Shabazz Napier led the Huskies with 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the championship game. Ryan Boatright added 14 points, making five of his six shots from the field and all four of his free throws.

WOMEN: APRIL 7, 2009

Tina Charles had 25 points and 19 rebounds as UConn completed a perfect 39-0 season by walloping Louisville 76-54 before 18,478 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for its first national championship in five years. Fellow All-Americans Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery added 18 points each.

Louisville guard Becky Burke described these Huskies the best.

“They have great talent. They’re blessed,” she said. “They have a great coach. But they’re not good because they just go out and play. They’re good because they get in the gym and work. That’s something a lot of people don’t do. If you asked some of our players if they got in the gym as much as the UConn players? No. Our entire team is not in the gym as much as Maya Moore. You don’t get that good just by showing up. It’s because you’ve been in the gym and you dedicate yourself to it. That’s what she does. They live in the gym. They’re dedicated. That’s why they’re at Connecticut and why they’re national champions.”

The Cardinals made things interesting early and there were six ties and seven lead changes in the first 10 minutes. Slowly but surely, though, the Huskies wore Louisville down. UConn was ahead 39-25 at halftime and with Charles in charge the Huskies finished in style.

Posted in Newington Town Crier, UConn on Tuesday, 7 April 2020 14:44. Updated: Tuesday, 7 April 2020 14:46.