We reached the biggest night in Women’s College Basketball on Sunday night as the South Carolina Gamecocks took on the UConn Huskies for the National Championship from the Target Center in Minneapolis. South Carolina booked their trip to the title game with a win over Louisville, while the Uconn Huskies made the title game by taking down the defending champion Stanford.
This game would feature a lot of Philadelphia connections. South Carolina Head Coach, Dawn Staley, is from North Philadelphia & went to Dobbins High School. She later played at Temple and coached the Temple Women’s team 2000 to 2008. The Head Coach opposite her, Geno Auriemma, is from Norristown PA & went to West Chester University. She has built a college basketball powerhouse with Uconn winning 11 championships over 1,000 wins. The grittiness of the city was etched deep into this matchup..
Geno Auriemma came into the matchup 11-0 in the Championship game. Was this the night that his streak would extend to 12?
The game itself
South Carolina would jump all over Uconn in the first quarter leading 22-8. The Huskies woke up in the second quarter and went on a run to bring the lead down to 8 at the half.
In the 3rd Quarter, The Huskies started to put pressure on the Gamecocks to set up an interesting 4th quarter. The Gamecocks would respond and just make it more difficult and that pressure ultimately helped seal their 2nd championship in program history.
Dawn Staley accomplished something that no other team was able to do in the National Championship game:
Let the party begin
Uconn Coach Geno Auriemma on the loss:
Obviously when you play in a game like this and you don’t win, it’s just incredibly difficult. To be in the locker room — I’ve been in the other locker room a lot of times, so I know what that feels like, and I’ve been in this locker room, and I know what that feels like. One team is going to be a national champion and the other team is not. And I think they deserved it 100 percent. They were the best team all year. The first five minutes I thought they came out and set the tone right then and there for how the game was going to be played. We were pretty much even the rest of the time, gave ourselves a chance, cut it to five, but we just didn’t have enough. I’m proud of our guys just to get here, just to be in this situation, it’s just tonight we just didn’t have enough. They were just too good for us.
Then Geno Auriemma was asked about his team for next year
I like our chances. Provided we don’t have to navigate a season like we did this year, knock on wood, if we stay healthy, I expect to be back here next year.
South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley on the journey to win the Title and what she learned from her 2017 title win
You know, I learned that culture matters. I learned that chemistry matters. I learned that the majority of your team really has to be locked in. Like the majority. Because a big part of our team are made up of young players that if they were the majority, they wouldn’t know how to navigate through a season in which you’re the No. 1 team throughout the entire season. And they don’t know the heartaches of what took place last year when we fell short in the semifinals. So you need players who have an incredible, insatiable desire to want to succeed and win a National Championship, or else it won’t take place.
Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire