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Stanford Leads UConn 20-12 At Halftime, But Huskies Rally To Claim Title!

The Connecticut Huskies matched one mark only the John Wooden coached UCLA Bruins had accomplished, winning back to back NCAA national championships with perfect seasons, 39-0 both years by the Huskies.

Ten more wins will tie the Bruins' all-time win record of 88, after the Huskies rallied from a disastrous first half shooting, and an eight point deficit, for a 53-47 win over Stanford.

Top ranked Connecticut started with a 5-0 run, all by Tiffany Hayes, but then stalled offensively, however second ranked Stanford started ice cold, and couldn't connect on open shots, much less capitalize on UConn's misses in the first five minutes.

But then Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Jane Appel, Jeanette Pohlen, and Kayla Pedersen got their teamwork going to the tune of a 12-0 run.

The Huskies went scoreless for over eight minutes, and trailed 12-5 halfway thru the first half. Maya Moore was 0 of 5 in the stretch.

The Cardinal couldn't extend the lead for over four minutes, so the eventually over ten minute scoreless streak by UConn until Moore finally scored her first basket didn't bury them.

Pohlen and Pedersen's three pointers were Stanford's only points in over eleven minutes, but Connecticut had one basket after the 6:52 mark, and the Cardinal took a 20-12 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Stanford shot just 26% in the first half, but UConn hit only 17% of their shots, and made just two of twelve three point attempts.

"The worst I've ever seen it," Husky coach Gino Auriemma said of the half that tied the record for the lowest point total in a first half in Connecticut school history.

Pedersen led everyone at almost everything at the break, with 10 points, including a basket with 29 seconds left, ending a Cardinal drought of over five minutes, and also eight rebounds, an assist, and a steal.Having already trailed more of the time than in any game in their 77 game winning streak, UConn attempted to be more aggressive to start the second half, and also held Stanford scoreless to the first media timeout, and clawed their way back within 20-17.

Stanford didn't score for nearly five minutes, and Appel had to have an already seriously sprained right ankle retaped, but couldn't immediately continue, and Joslyn Tinkle had to take over for the senior All-American.

Kalana Green got a two plus one scoring opportunity, and Moore hit back to back jumpers for five points, making her the game's leading scorer with 14 points, to give the Huskies the lead back at the 14:27 mark, and then a 25-22 lead.

Moore went coast to coast for two more, and Tina Charles, without Appel to worry about, switched to Ogwumike, and picked up a pair of blocked shots.

Appel returned, but Caroline Doty's layup upped the Husky lead to seven points, 29-22, with 12 minutes left.

JJ Hones stopped the 17-2 UConn run with a three pointer, but Charles' basket gave UConn a six point lead midway in the second half.

Appel's ankle and knee injuries effectively eliminated her ability to jump, and as a result, she was 0 of 11 shooting three quarters thru the game. Ineffective, Appel sat down at the eight minute mark, with Stanford trailing by double figures for the first time, down 38-27.

Pedersen was the first player to get to the double double mark, and was all that kept the Cardinal within sight of the Huskies, and another three pointer by Moore got her to 21 points, and gave UConn a 12 point lead with seven minutes left.

Doty's three pointer made it a 15 point, 44-29 lead with less than five minutes left, the largest lead of the game.

Pohlen's three pointer pulled Stanford within 10 points with less than two minutes left, and another three by Pedersen at the 1:12 mark pulled Stanford within 47-40.

But the Cardinal had exhausted their allotment of timeouts by that point, and the Huskies made six free throws down the stretch to hold off Stanford for the 53-47 win. It was the only win in the two season, 78 game winning streak by less than ten points, and also the Huskies' lowest point total in the run.

UConn improved their shooting percentage, but just to 33% for the game, but they held Stanford to just 26.5% from the field.

Moore finished with a 23 point, 11 rebound double double, and Charles just missed, with nine points and 11 rebounds, to go with six blocks.

Pedersen had a tremendous game, with 15 points, including three three pointers, and 17 rebounds, and Ogwumike also recorded a double double for Stanford, with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Pohlen also had three three pointers, and 11 points, but zero points from Appel was impossible to overcome.

The win was the seventh national title for the Huskies, and for Auriemma as a coach, both in seven appearances.

"I've never been prouder, because of how they fought back today," Auriemma said.

"We knew how out of sync we were," Moore said. "Halftime was mostly xs and os, to fix it. Nobody had to say anything about motivation."

It was the third loss in two years to UConn for Stanford, and coach Tara VanDerVeer, who handed the Huskies their last loss, two years ago to the day.