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Perfect 10

2015 Division I Women’s Basketball

When the final horn blasted and confetti rained, tears streamed down the University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma’s cheeks. When reporters later asked him to compare a 10th national championship to the previous nine, his eyes glistened and voice cracked – this, he said, was his most rewarding season.

The Huskies squad that defeated Notre Dame 63-53 in the national championship game on April 7 in Tampa, Florida wasn’t the same team that first gathered on Connecticut’s campus six months before: “I didn't like this team in October,” Auriemma admitted.

Despite the return of core players from a team that had already captured two straight national championships, preseason training proved to be a difficult task. Players lacked focus, ignored details and disregarded challenges, Auriemma said. Soon, trust waned.

“How do you tell a group of guys that have won two national championships in a row that what they're doing isn't good enough?” he asked.

An overtime loss to Stanford in the Huskies’ second contest of the season ended a 47-game winning streak and awakened Connecticut: The stunning defeat proved to be the answer Auriemma sought. Suddenly, his team transformed.

“Every drill we gave them that was impossible, they embraced it,” he said. “As the season went on they started to embrace the challenge, and that, basically, is what got us to where we are now.”

In the second half of the championship game, Notre Dame drew within two possessions of the lead five times. But each time, a Husky countered by forcing a turnover, draining a 3-pointer or outrunning the Irish defense for a transition layup.

“We talked about it in the locker room a little bit – that every time we were challenged, we responded,” Auriemma said. “And I couldn't be happier for them tonight.”

The Results

2015 Division I Women’s Basketball

CHAMPIONSHIP
Connecticut 63, Notre Dame 53

SEMIFINALS
Connecticut 81, Maryland 58
Notre Dame 66, South Carolina 65

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut

ELITE 89 HONOREE
Malina Howard, Maryland

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