By Carl Adamec
NEW ORLEANS — The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team saved its best for last.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart had 23 points and nine rebounds as the Huskies tied the NCAA record with their eighth national championship Tuesday night, pounding Louisville 93-60 at sold-out New Orleans Arena.
UConn (35-4) draws even with Tennessee with eight NCAA crowns. Louisville (29-9) was seeking its first title and the Cardinals were hoping to join UConn (2004) as the only school to win the men’s and women’s championship in the same year.
The Cardinals got off to a good start but UConn erased an early four-point deficit with a 19-0 run in a 4:10 span.
Back-to-back baskets by Bria Hartley started it and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ three-point play gave the Huskies the lead. Stewart then scored the next seven points and Hartley made two free throws. Mosqueda-Lewis’ trey made it 29-14 with 8:45 left in the half.
Consecutive treys by Kelly Faris and Stewart and a Stewart free throw gave UConn a 23-point lead. It was 48-29 at halftime.
Louisville got no closer than 16 in the second half.
Mosqueda-Lewis had 18 points and nine rebounds. Faris added 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Hartley chipped in 13 points off the bench. Stefanie Dolson had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Sara Hammond had 15 points for Louisville.
Joining Stewart on the all-tournament team were Hartley, Mosqueda-Lewis, Faris and the Cardinals’ Antonita Slaughter.
Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino was here and addressed the Cardinals before the game.