Geno Auriemma, reflecting on NCAA final loss, says UConn was always going to need ‘a little bit of luck’ to beat South Carolina

The loss in the women’s NCAA finals on Monday was a tough one for many Connecticut fans to swallow. UConn coach Geno Auriemma, however, had already been preparing for this moment since his team’s Big East Tournament win earlier that week. One of the key components he discussed with reporters after South Carolina took down the Huskies? The fact they needed “a little bit of luck” to beat their opponent and become champions themselves.

The “ncaa tournament 2021 dates” is a post from Geno Auriemma, reflecting on the final loss of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In his post, he says that UConn was always going to need “a little bit of luck.”

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  •’s Mechelle Voepel


      Mechelle Voepel is an espnW reporter that covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports. Voepel has been with ESPN since 1996 and has covered women’s basketball since 1984.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — In 1995, UConn’s women’s basketball team reached and won their first NCAA final in this city. Coach Geno Auriemma and his team were unbeaten in ten consecutive appearances in the national championship game — until Sunday night.

That 11-0 run came to an end in Minneapolis 27 years later when the No. 2 seed Huskies were defeated 64-49 by No. 1 South Carolina.

The 49 points were UConn’s second-lowest total in an NCAA tournament game; the previous low was 75 against Vanderbilt in the second round of the 1992 tournament.

The last time the Huskies struggled offensively in an NCAA tournament defeat came in the 2008 Elite Eight, when they lost 73-50 to an LSU squad anchored by Sylvia Fowles, a formidable post player. They met another on Sunday in Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, the consensus national player of the year and the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

“I’ve always said it: To win the national title, you have to be incredibly excellent and a little bit fortunate,” Auriemma said. “First and first, you must be very talented. You must be well-balanced and embody all of the characteristics that define South Carolina. You must be an excellent guard player. Your large men must be capable of dominating on one end or the other. Then you’ll need a dash of luck.

“We had the superior team at least 10 times out of the 11 times we won. We played as though we were the superior team, and we were well-balanced, with all bases covered and everything necessary to win a title.”

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This season, Auriemma did not believe that was the case. The Huskies had to overcome a stiff test from UCF in the second round before surviving a double-overtime game in the Bridgeport Regional final against No. 1 seed NC State.

“We indicated before we arrived here that we’re going to need a little bit of assistance from Stanford on Friday night,” Auriemma said. “And we were going to need some assistance tonight, and [South Carolina] refused to help.”

The Huskies have now been without an NCAA championship for six years, dating back to 1995 when they won their first. The second national championship occurred in 2000, followed by 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 in that order.

In 2017, Morgan William’s buzzer-beating jump jumper in overtime snapped UConn’s 111-game winning run, as Mississippi State upset UConn in the first of four straight national semifinal defeats. The Huskies were beaten in the Final Four by Notre Dame in 2018 and 2019, while Arizona beat them last season.

On Friday, UConn defeated Stanford despite the Cardinals’ offensive woes. However, the tone was set against the Huskies from the outset on Sunday. South Carolina led 22-8 after shooting 50% from the floor in the first quarter, and the Huskies were never able to catch up.

UConn sophomore Paige Bueckers returned after missing 19 games due to a knee injury suffered in December to help the Huskies reach their 14th straight Final Four. Bueckers’ 27-point effort in the Elite Eight saved her season, but she was held to 14 points in both Final Four games.

“It was a fantastic weekend.” “It was fantastic to be able to be here with my team and spend more time with them, develop more memories, and do it at home,” the Minnesota native added. “I mean, no one in my situation would be pleased right now, so I’m clearly disappointed with how things turned out.”

“I’m really proud of this team for how far we’ve come, as well as all the obstacles we’ve faced and overcome to get to this point. But it’s a national title or nothing at UConn. So clearly irritated, furious, and dissatisfied.”

South Carolina’s defense, according to Auriemma, was instrumental in minimizing Bueckers.

He said, “We knew that was going to happen.” “I don’t believe our attack ever looked like it was in any type of rhythm or flow from the start of the game. Paige then attempted to accomplish it on her own, which never works when just one person is involved. But, in my opinion, their guards fully controlled the game on the perimeter, making it very tough for any of our players to get solid looks.”

He admitted that the Huskies weren’t at full strength; forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa was dealing with a groin ailment, while guard Azzi Fudd was out due to sickness. But, according to Auriemma, no matter how good South Carolina played, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

He described the season as “simply a continual succession of incidents that we had to keep dealing with.” “It simply didn’t stop for the whole year.” I believe they put in a tremendous effort to stick together as well as they did during the year and to be in this game.

“However, once you’re in the game, you want to win it. You’re not just pleased to be here. But I hope they’ll appreciate the work it took to get here after this wears off.”

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