Stanford 64

(33-5, 17-1 Pac-12)

Connecticut 83

(34-0, 16-0 Big East)

    9:00 PM ET, April 5, 2009

    1 2 T
    STAN 24 4064
    CONN 37 4683

    Top Performers

    Stanford: J. Appel 26 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Connecticut: R. Montgomery 26 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 4 Stl

    Unbeaten UConn is unchallenged by Stanford, advances to championship game

    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS -- Geno Auriemma has coached perfect teams and national champions before. He's also worked with some of the best players in the history of women's basketball.

    On the doorstep of another unbeaten season, the Connecticut coach wants to add senior guard Renee Montgomery and the rest of the these Huskies to those lists.

    Playing Perfect

    Connecticut was the fifth team to enter the championship game with a perfect record and win the title.

    Unbeaten Teams in Title Game
    Season Team W-L Result
    2008-09 Connecticut 39-0 Won Title
    2001-02 Connecticut 38-0 Won Title
    1997-98 Tennessee 38-0 Won Title
    1994-95 Connecticut 34-0 Won Title
    1985-86 Texas 33-0 Won Title

    "I don't want this team to come up short," Auriemma said. "I don't want them to stop playing. I wanted them to be in the championship game. You love when your best players, the ones who have given their heart and soul to the program and have accomplished so many things have a chance to win the last college game of the year."

    Montgomery scored 26 points, Maya Moore added 24, and unbeaten UConn cruised to its first title game in five years with an 83-64 victory over Stanford on Sunday night.

    UConn will face Big East rival Louisville on Tuesday night. The Cardinals missed their first 13 shots before rallying to beat Oklahoma 61-59.

    The Huskies (38-0) already have routed Louisville twice this year, including dismantling the Cardinals 75-36 in the Big East tournament championship game in early March.

    "I wish we were playing anyone but Louisville," Auriemma said. "Anyone, I don't care who. The last team you want to play is a team you beat the way we beat them the two times we beat them, especially the last time we played them."

    The Huskies have made almost everyone look silly this season, winning by nearly 31 points a game and not allowing a team to come within single digits.

    With an imposing lineup that featured five starters over 6-feet, Stanford (33-5) was supposed to be an obstacle. The Cardinal were the last team to beat Connecticut, knocking them out of the Final Four last season.

    Fast Facts

    • Connecticut avenged its loss to Stanford in last season's Final Four and advanced to its sixth national championship game.

    • The Huskies led by 13 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 23-5 run that stretched the lead to 31.

    • Senior Renee Montgomery led the Huskies with 26 points on 11-of-22 from the field; she has scored more than 20 points in three of her last four games. Maya Moore added 24 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

    • The Huskies are a perfect 5-0 in the national title game; no other team is even 2-0.

    • The Huskies will meet Louisville, a team they beat twice this season by an average of 33.5 ppg.

    • Stanford lost despite outrebounding Connecticut 39-38 and outscoring the Huskies 38-28 in the paint.

    • Jayne Appel led the Cardinals with 26 points. Her two-game total of 72 points is the fourth highest in tournament history.

    -- ESPN Stats & Information

    That challenge didn't last long -- just like most of the other ranked teams UConn has faced this season.

    After Jayne Appel got off to a quick start, the Huskies swarmed the Stanford star on defense, sometimes sending four players at her. The Cardinal couldn't stop Montgomery on the other end, who sliced through Stanford's defense with ease.

    "They went on a run where one time we totally lost Montgomery," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "For their team they really capitalized on any time someone was open."

    Appel finished with 26 points, but she had little help. Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 12 points and 12 rebounds and Kayla Pedersen added 10 points.

    UConn beat Stanford 87-60 in the Final Four en route to its first undefeated season in 1995, and also went unbeaten in 2002. The Huskies also entered the NCAA tournament undefeated in 1997, but fell to Tennessee in the regional final.

    Besides Connecticut, only the Lady Vols and Texas have run through a season unbeaten.

    This was the second straight season that Stanford and Connecticut met in the Final Four. The Cardinal walked away with a 82-73 win last season before falling to Tennessee in the title game.

    On Sunday, they tried to run with the Huskies early and led 14-13 in the first half. Appel was unstoppable, scoring 10 of the team's first 14 points on an array of post moves.

    But then the Huskies clamped down, going on one of their vaunted runs that have carried them all season long.

    Connecticut scored 18 of the next 22 points to take a 31-18 lead. As she has been for most of the season, Montgomery was the catalyst.

    The senior guard, who was the first UConn player to have her jersey retired while still playing, started the spurt with a 3-pointer. She had seven points during the burst that ended with Kaili McLaren's putback with 5:39 left in the half.

    "Renee Montgomery was the difference maker," VanDerveer said. "That's the player of the year right there."

    The teams traded baskets for the rest of the first half as UConn went into the break up 37-24. It was the 32nd time this season that they held a double-digit lead at the half.

    UConn put together a 13-0 run after intermission, holding Stanford without a point for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the second half. Moore, The Associated Press player of the year, had seven during the surge.

    Appel finally ended the drought with a layup, but it was too late as Stanford trailed by 24 points at that point. The Cardinal could only get within 19 the rest of the way.

    "Connecticut was head and shoulders above us tonight," VanDerveer said.

    Stanford had won 20 straight coming into the Final Four, including capturing its sixth straight Pac-10 tournament title. But the Cardinal couldn't get going offensively besides Appel, who grabbed seven rebounds to break the single-season school record set by Nicole Powell in 2003-04.

    The victory over Stanford helped ease some painful St. Louis memories for the Huskies, who lost in the 2001 national semifinals to Notre Dame in the Gateway city.

    It also set up only the fourth meeting in the championship between teams from the same conference.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 64 83
    FG Made-Attempted 26-62 (.419) 31-63 (.492)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-11 (.364) 8-21 (.381)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-18 (.444) 13-17 (.765)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 1 31

    Game Leaders

    PointsJ. Appel 26R. Montgomery 26
    ReboundsN. Ogwumike 12T. Charles 12
    AssistsJ. Pohlen 6R. Montgomery 6
    StealsR. Gold-Onwude 2R. Montgomery 4
    BlocksJ. Appel 1M. Moore 1


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