TAMPA, Fla. -- The UConn women beat Notre Dame 63-53 on Tuesday to win their third consecutive national championship. With the program's 10th title overall, coach Geno Auriemma matched UCLA's men's coach John Wooden for most titles in college basketball history. A look at how the Huskies did it.
How the game was won: Connecticut was the nation's best defensive team all season and the Huskies, not at their best offensively Tuesday, relied on that defense all night to beat Notre Dame. The Irish shot 33 percent from the floor, their second worst percentage of the season (they shot 31 percent in a Dec. 6 meeting with UConn in South Bend). Connecticut also forced 17 Notre Dame turnovers, 13 in the first half when the Huskies built an eight-point lead at the break. The Irish employed a sound strategy with the way they rotated defenders on Breanna Stewart, holding her to just eight points, two in the second half, but might have missed an opportunity to pull the upset by missing 13 layups and struggling to get open jump shot looks against that Huskies' defense.
Player of the game: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The senior, playing in her final college game, scored 15 points -- and it was when she scored them that mattered most. She had two individual 7-0 runs, one in the first half and once in the second, each time when Notre Dame seemed ready to start a comeback. The Huskies weren't at their best, but kept Notre Dame at arm's length all night, and the two bursts by Mosqueda-Lewis were the key reasons why.
Player of the game II: Moriah Jefferson. Up until an ill-advised layup attempt as UConn was trying to run out the clock in the final minute, the junior point guard played an outstanding floor game with 15 points, five assists and three turnovers. Her three 3-pointers led the team. Jefferson also played her usual ball-hawking defense, and was at least partially responsible for Jewell Loyd shooting 4-of-18 from the field and Lindsay Allen going 3-for-12. Jefferson also had three steals.
Stat of the game: Loyd, Notre Dame's leading scorer, had her second-worst shooting game of the season, going just 4-of-18 from the floor to finish with only 12 points. She had averaged nearly 24 points per game against ranked teams this season.
Stat of the game II: Notre Dame outrebounded Connecticut 45-34.
Stat of the game III: Connecticut made 5 of 10 3-pointers in the second half.
X factor: Auriemma always tells his team to not be afraid to lose, and Tuesday, their refusal to lose got the Huskies through. They didn't shoot it particularly well (41 percent) and were outrebounded. Their star player, Stewart, scored just two points in the second half. So UConn dug in defensively and made things difficult on Notre Dame. This was not a beautiful game in the pantheon of Connecticut titles, but it was one of the grittiest. It was game where UConn's ability to do the little things in a bigger way than the opponent was the difference.