That was the theme of Tuesday night’s showdown for the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship. After 77 games of beating their opponents with a near 33 point differential, the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies were in for the fight of their streak. In their way? The ladies of the Standford Cardinal, who handed Connecticut their last defeat in the 2008 National Semifinals.
For the first twenty minutes, the Huskies looked like anything but a team on the verge of back-to-back perfect seasons. They scored just 12 points on 5-for-29 (17.2%) shooting. The 12 points marked the lowest first-half scoring output ever in a championship game and the fewest in the history of the Huskies program. About the poor first half performance, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said, “It was one of the few times I can ever remember being speechless. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.” The silver lining in it all was that they managed to hold Stanford to just 20 first half points. Meaning, a quick run could get them right back in the game.
That quick run became a reality when the Lady Huskies stormed out of the gate in the second half. Led by 5 baskets from junior sensation Maya Moore, Connecticut went on a 17-2 run to take a 29-22 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game. UConn senior Tina Charles complimented Moore’s offensive outburst by playing her trademark stifling defense. The 6-foot-4 center grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked 6 shots, and held Stanford center Jayne Appel to 0-for-12 shooting.
After charging to take a 38-27 lead at the 7:42 mark, the Connecticut women never looked back. The game was never any closer than 5 points the rest of the way. The poise of a champion was shown, as there was an answer for every potential Stanford run. When the clock ran down to 0:00, the Lady Huskies celebrated something that they haven’t in the last two seasons; a single digit win. This time, they didn’t win just because they were the better of the two teams on the court. They won because they showed more heart, patience, and resilience than anybody in the world. Second consecutive National Championship and 78-0 perfect record in tact.
Imperfect perfection. A phrase that seemingly contradicts itself. Nevertheless, these Connecticut women lended a bit of validity to its concept on Tuesday night. They didn’t play the game they wanted to play, but rather, the game they had to play. For that reason, these women can hold their heads high and say, for at least 78 nights, perfection was possible.
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photo via yahoo