Connecticut wins second crown

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

By Staff
ATLANTA -- They may not have gone undefeated, but Connecticut is still the ruler of women's college basketball.
Diana Taurasi scored 28 points to lead Connecticut to its second straight NCAA Tournament championship with a 73-68 victory over archrival Tennessee at the Georgia Dome.
Taurasi, who became the third leading scorer in the history of the NCAA Tournament with 157 points, took home the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.
Tennessee under coach Pat Summitt has won a record six national titles but fell to 0-3 against Connecticut in the championship game.
Connecticut (37-1) shook off a loss to Villanova in the Big East Conference tournament final and rolled to its fourth title under coach Geno Auriemma. The Huskies became just the third women's team in history to win back-to-back titles.
Connecticut became the first team in NCAA Women's Tournament history to win a championship without a senior. The Huskies lost four of their starters on last year's undefeated squad.
Summitt's all-time records of 821 wins and six titles were put on hold as the Lady Vols (33-5) saw a late rally fall short.
Tennessee was the last school to repeat as champs, winning three in a row from 1996-98.
With the victory, Auriemma improved his lifetime record to 501-99 for a winning percentage of 83.5 percent, inching ahead of Summitt's 83.4 percent.
The Naismith Player of the Year, Taurasi came in averaging 25.8 points in the NCAA Tournament and 22 in five career games against Tennessee. She scored 11 of her team's final 18 points in the first half, providing a 35-30 lead.
Two free throws by Taurasi gave UConn its largest lead at 67-54 with 6:11 to play before Tennessee ran off eight straight points.
With the Huskies in a six-minute drought without a basket, the Lady Vols pulled within three points on a layup by Gwen Jackson with 21 seconds remaining.
But UConn freshman Ann Strother sank a pair of free throws and Ashley Battle stole an inbounds pass to seal the win.
Strother scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting to complement the excellent play of Taurasi, who made 4-of-9 3-pointers.