UConn seniors headed back to the Final Four
The UConn players, however, realized that beating a team by 51 points especially one with the talent that the Texas team possesses, was not going to result in another laugher.
Had Lashann Higgs' 3-pointer been taken a split second earlier, the Longhorns would have only trailed by two at the end of the first quarter. When replays showed that it was taken after time had expired, Texas was down five at the opening quarter.
"You cant expect these games to be easy anymore," said regional Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart. "Texas was a gritty team and they stopped a lot of things that we wanted to do.
"If you lose to somebody by 51 the year before, you are going to come out and make sure that is not the case. They did that, they are a better team this year."
Stewart had 21 points and 13 rebounds as she tied Maya Moore's UConn record with her eighth double-double in the NCAA tournament. Morgan Tuck chipped in with 22 points and six assists for UConn (36-0).
Moriah Jefferson added 11 points and nine assists, Kia Nurse also had 11 while freshmen Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier had nine points each for UConn with Collier delivering key minutes in the first half with Tuck and Gabby Williams on the bench with two fouls each.
Texas was within five points with 7:22 left in the first half before it started to get away from them.
The Longhorns missed 10 shots in a row before Higgs scored with 1:16 seconds left in the half. Her basket did cut the lead to 14 and the Longhorns went into the locker room down by 15.
Trailing by 12 midway through the third quarter, Texas had a chance to get the lead down to 10 but were unable to corral the rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Katie Lou Samuelson. Morgan Tuck made the Longhorns pay with a jumper and by the end of the third quarter it was a 19-point game.
With 1:38 Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck came out of the game and received a thunderous ovation. Jefferson and Stewart stepped off the court in Connecticut for the final time as college players and Tuck may have as well unless she opts to return for a fifth season of eligibility.
"It was a surreal moment, it doesn't even seem real," Jefferson said. "It's been four years, it doesn't feel like it. It feels like we should have another season this year and we don't."
What the Huskies do have is a chance to win an unprecedented fourth straight national title. It begins on Sunday with a 6 p.m. game against either Baylor or Oregon State.
"It has been an amazing journey and to be able to go to our fourth Final Four," Stewart said. "We don't want it to end any other way (than a fourth straight national title)."
UCONN TRIO WOODEN ALL-AMERICANS
Not only did Stewart and Jefferson receive first team honors with Tuck being named to the second tea, on the Associated Press All-American team, but they were all named to the 10-player Wooden All-American team as well.
Minnesota's Rachel Banham, Nina Davis of Baylor, Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State, Notre Dame's Brianna Turner, Kelsey Plum of Final Four bound Washington and the South Carolina duo of Tiffany Mitchell and A'ja Wilson were also named Wooden All-Americans.