Connecticut completed its historic run to a fourth consecutive national championship with an 82-51 win over Syracuse on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck became the only players in NCAA college basketball history, men or women, to win four titles. The championship also marked the 11th overall for Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, who moved past legendary UCLA men's coach John Wooden.
UConn finished the season at 38-0, the sixth unbeaten season in program history, and extended its winning streak to 75 games.
A look at how the Huskies won the game.
How the game was won: Connecticut's dominance began from the opening tip; the Huskies refused to let the chance for four straight titles slip away. Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson outscored Syracuse all by themselves in the first half, playing with a confidence of three players who were used to the magnitude of this game. UConn jumped to a 9-0 lead and Syracuse inched no closer, despite a 16-0 run late in the third quarter. UConn simply executed its well-designed game plan. The Huskies pressed Syracuse, baiting the Orange into some quick shots; they beat the Syracuse press with short, quick passes and did it by keeping the ball in the hands of their veterans; and they carved up the Syracuse zone by getting the ball to the shot corner and finding the opener cutter in the lane. Syracuse's strengths all season have been offensive rebounding, 3-point shooting and forcing mistakes. UConn took those all away.
Player of the game: Breanna Stewart. The most decorated player in UConn history -- she won her fourth Final Four Most Outstanding Player award -- finished her career with 24 points (she has scored at least 20 in three of her four championship game appearances), 10 rebounds, 6 assists and two blocks. Her blocked shot on Brittney Sykes and then a 3-pointer 21 seconds later set the tone in the first two minutes of the game.
Player of the game II: Morgan Tuck. UConn's best player in the semifinal win over Oregon State was the second-best in the final. She finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Player of the game III: Moriah Jefferson. Not to be outdone by the other two members of the "Big Three," Jefferson had 13 points, five assists and just one turnover in directing the UConn offense against the Syracuse pressure. Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson combined to outscore Syracuse 56-51.
Turning point: UConn was up by 33 early in the third quarter, then went over six minutes without a point. Syracuse capitalized with 16 straight, but after an Auriemma timeout, Napeesha Collier hit a layup on an assist from Tuck. The play was reminiscent of the execution that helped UConn earn the big lead. Collier then finished the third with another layup to beat the buzzer -- and the last bit of hope for the Orange was dashed.
Stat of the game: Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson ended their time playing together with a 115-5 record. The trio went 116-1 in the past three seasons. With just over a minute and a half left, UConn called timeout and all three exited the game together one last time. A series of hugs up and down the bench followed as the Huskies' celebration began early, and it reached a fever-pitch when seldom-used senior Briana Pulido made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.
Stat of the game II: UConn took away one of Syracuse's great weapons -- the offensive rebound. The Orange didn't have one the entire first quarter and finished with 11. They had averaged 17 over their five previous tournament games.
Stat of the game III: Syracuse's goal is to hit 10 3-pointers a game. The Orange went 2-for-19 from 3-point range against UConn.
X factor: Immediately after the game, Auriemma said the three keys to this run of dominance were Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson as he pointed to each one. They dominated in their final game together and were the chief reason for UConn's win and four straight titles.