The UConn women won their eighth national championship earlier this month in New Orleans when they crushed rival Notre Dame, 83-65 in the semi-final and rolled over Louisville, 93-60, in the title game. They made it look easy in the Big Easy. They were led by freshman wunderkind Breanna Stewart, affectionately known as “Stewie” who was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player after scoring a total of 52 points over the two games. But the victory was truly a team effort. They were unstoppable.
Covering the Final Four was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It was a whirlwind of events starting with the Parade of Teams to kick off the weekend. Then the real work began with shooting team practices, press conferences, autograph-signing sessions, locker room scenes, the high school All America game, both semi-final games, more press conferences, and finally the big game.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorite images from the tournament.
Morgan Tuck, Breanna Stewart, Kiah Stokes, and Moriah Jefferson get into the spirit of the Big Easy all dressed up complete with feather boas in the Parade of Teams at Mardi Gras World Friday night where the four teams were introduced to fans.
Stefanie Dolson shoots a layup during an open practice at the New Orleans Arena the day before taking on Notre Dame in a semi-final game.
Associate head coach Chris Dailey sets a light-hearted mood during practice.
Skylar Diggins and the Irish looked relaxed and confident as they posed for a team photo at their open practice the day before the semi-final game.
Back in the locker room after practice, Stefanie Dolson removes an ice pack from her right leg which was healing from a stress fracture.
Breanna Stewart playfully tickles Chris Dailey as she is interviewed in the locker room after practice.
Moriah Jefferson reacts to a card delt while playing UNO with Morgan Tuck and Brianna Banks and Heather Buck (off camera), a locker room ritual for the group.
The team holds an autograph session for the legions of loyal fans who made the trip to New Orleans to cheer on their Huskies.
UConn’s Kelly Faris was instrumental in keeping Skylar Diggins away from the ball as the two former high school opponents from Indiana faced off.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw takes issue with a ref’s call in the second half as UConn pulls away.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis showed off her considerable skills adding 16 points against the Irish.
Caroline Doty shows why she’s the emotional leader for the Huskies as she leaps for joy as a teammate scores in the second half.
Stefanie Dolson battles Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride for a loose ball. McBride was the high scorer for the Irish with 16 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Huskies stifling defense.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma directs his squad as they hold off Notre Dame.
Bria Hartley drives to the hoop as Skylar Diggins defends. Hartley scored 15 points in the game.
UConn fan Liz Manning cheers as the Huskies roll over Notre Dame.
As the clock winds down, Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride and Skylar Diggins can only watch as their 30-game winning streak comes to an end.
The New Orleans Arena fills up as UConn and Louisville warm up before playing in the national championship.
Stefanie Dolson gets a mouthful of fingers from Louisville’s Bria Smith in the first half of the championship game. Dolson played through pain from a stress fracture throughout the tournament but managed 12 points and 6 rebounds in the game.
The Huskies, feeling the momentum building, celebrate after Breanna Stewart was fouled on a play.
Breanna Stewart dominated the game with 23 points and 9 rebounds.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz gets in Shoni Schimmel’s face as UConn has it’s way with her in the championship game.
A highlight of the game came late in the second half when senior Heather Buck stole the ball from a Louisville player and scored on the fast break.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis cuts the last piece of one of the nets after UConn won the national championship.
Former UConn greats Maya Moore, Kalana Greene and Mel Thomas watch the celebration from the stands. Heather Buck’s Dad, David, is at left.
The Huskies hoist the championship trophy for the fans to see.
The team carries coach Geno Auriemma across the floor after UConn won their eighth national championship, tying Pat Summit’s record at Tennessee.