Women’s Basketball to Play for Championship Tonight

<p>The Husky mascot is a rallying point for fans of UConn athletics.</p>

Two years ago today in the semifinals of the NCAA women’s basketball championship, Stanford handed the Huskies only their second loss of the 2007-08 season. In the two seasons since that night in Tampa, Fla., UConn has marched through 77 consecutive games without a loss, setting NCAA records by vanquishing the opposition by at least 10 points in each game.

Tonight in San Antonio, Texas, the Huskies can once again make history, if they defeat Stanford for the second time this year to win their seventh NCAA title and complete back-to-back seasons without a loss – something no other women’s team has accomplished.

When Stanford arrived at the XL Center in Hartford last Dec. 23, it was a battle between No. 1 and No. 2. In that game, UConn was behind 44-42 early in the second half before senior Kalana Greene and All-American junior Maya Moore began a 30-6 run to secure the Huskies’ 49th consecutive win.

“I think this is a great game for us to play. We were really excited to be in it, and this will really help us for the rest of our season,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said after that game, the team’s only loss this season.

On Sunday, after beating Oklahoma 73-66, when she was asked what her team would bring to tonight’s championship game, VanDerveer said, “I think our team will bring confidence, knowing that we’ve improve a lot … I think our team will be excited.”

Asked by reporters if Stanford’s close game against Xavier in the quarterfinal game and fending off a late surge by Oklahoma in the semifinal will help the Cardinal team in the championship game, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said, “Sometimes when you get a second life as a team, you tend to make the most of it if you’re a really good team. And I think they’re a really good team. I don’t think it hurts them or helps them. I don’t think it hurts or helps us what’s happened.”

As they have for the duration of their historic season, the Huskies said they remain focused on one goal.

“We know they’re a very good team and we’re just going to play and have fun with it. The streak is irrelevant right now,” said sophomore Tiffany Hayes. “We’re here to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s win a national championship.”

UConn will be led tonight by Moore, who won the 2009-10 State Farm Wade Trophy as greatest player in women’s basketball, who not only excels athletically but serves as a role model both on and off the court; and senior All-American Tina Charles, who was named as 2009-10 Player of the Year by the Associated Press. The game begins at 8:30 p.m. (ET).

For more information, go to the Athletics website.