NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Diana Taurasi capped off her
outstanding collegiate career with a third straight championship
as second-seeded Connecticut defeated top-seeded Tennessee,
70-61, on Tuesday night.
Taurasi scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half to help
the Huskies (31-4) hold off a number of charges by the Lady Vols
and improve to 5-0 in the championship game, including 4-0
After the Lady Vols (31-4) came from 17 points down in the first
half to cut the score to 36-33 early in the second, Taurasi
connected on a 3-point field goal with 4:08 expired to change
the momentum. She added another 2:43 later to extend the lead
for Connecticut to 48-38.
The Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, Taurasi shot
6-of-11 from the field with three 3-point baskets. In eight
career meetings against Tennessee, she finished with a 21.6
average and a shooting percentage from 3-point range of 48.
The Huskies, who became just the second team to win three
straight NCAA women's championships, have gone 7-1 in those
Connecticut's Geno Auriemma also became the third coach to win
five NCAA Division I basketball championships, joining John
Wooden of UCLA and the Lady Vols' Pat Summitt.
Jessica Moore, who scored the first four baskets after halftime
for the Huskies, also had a strong second half with 12 points on
With Tennessee closing within three points at 48-45 with 11:26
remaining, Moore pulled down one of her six offensive rebounds
and scored. She also hit a lay-up with 8:58 left to supply
Connecticut with a 52-48 advantage.
Ann Strother had nine of her 14 points in the first half and
Barbara Turner contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and four
assists for the Huskies, who have won 18 straight tournament
games and 28 of their last 29.
Shanna Zolman led the second-half charge for the Lady Vols,
scoring 14 of her game-high 19 points over the final 20 minutes.
She buried three shots within the first 3:06 of the second
half, including a 3-pointer that got Tennessee to within three
points at 36-33.
Ashley Robinson chipped in with 13 points, seven rebounds and
two blocks for the Lady Vols, who trailed, 30-13, with 6:29 left
in the first half, but went into halftime with an 11-0 run.