Connecticut’s women’s basketball team capped off a historic season with an 82-51 win over Syracuse in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA tournament on Tuesday night.
The Huskies won by 31 points despite giving up a 16-0 run in the third quarter to the Orange. They were also without their top 3-point shooter, freshman Katie Lou Samuleson, who injured her foot in the semifinal against Oregon State.
UConn simply put together the most dominant season in college basketball history, led by the most decorated player in the history of the sport in Breanna Stewart.
The Huskies finished 38-0 and won those games by an average margin of 39.4 points. That number is just ridiculous. The Huskies did not have a single-digit margin of victory all season. They won 25 of their 38 games by at least 40 points.
UConn may not have played the greatest schedule, largely due to the fact that the only other ranked team in the American Athletic Conference was South Florida, but the Huskies played a very good non-conference schedule, as is typical for them. In the regular season and NCAA Tournament, Connecticut played 11 opponents that were ranked in the final regular-season AP poll, including six ranked in the top 10, and won those games by an average of 21.2 points. That included a 44-point win over No. 9 Ohio State in November and a 29-point win over No. 6 Oregon State in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. Even though the Huskies did not face another No. 1 seed in the tournament, they did beat Notre Dame and South Carolina in the regular season.
If you somehow didn’t believe UConn women’s basketball was a dynasty before, you’d have to believe it now. The Huskies and coach Geno Auriemma won their 11th championship Tuesday night and fourth in a row. Auriemma passed John Wooden for the most titles in college basketball history.
The leader of this team is senior forward Breanna Stewart, who leaves Connecticut as arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport. She is inarguably the most decorated and accomplished. She and fellow seniors Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson won the four championships together and were first-team All-Americans this season. They posted a record of 116-1 their last three seasons. There is a fourth senior, walk-on Briana Pulido, who got into the game tonight and scored the final two points.
Stewart is also won Most Outstanding Player and was the National Player of the Year all four of her years at UConn. She has also twice been named the Female Athlete of the Year for USA Basketball, so her international career is off to a great start as well.
Some people say that having a team as dominant as UConn is bad for women’s basketball. I don’t think that’s true. This was a special, once-in-a-lifetime season. It should be appreciated for what it was. If something like this becomes a trend, then yes, that’s bad for the sport, but one very extraordinary season is something that should be celebrated, not scorned.