The University of Connecticut knocked out defending champions Stanford University to reach the NCAA women’s basketball final. The Huskies defeated the Cardinal 63-58 in Minneapolis on Friday night. Earlier in the night, top-seeded Louisville fell to South Carolina, 72-59.
The win comes 27 years to the day when UConn beat Stanford in a semifinal game in 1995 in the same city and in the same arena.
After that game, the Huskies went on to grab their first-ever national championship and will look to take home their 12th on Sunday, in Minneapolis. That game starts at 8 p.m. ET. UConn has never lost a National Championship game.
Last night’s game featured the same coaches who led their teams then, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer and UConn’s Geno Auriemma, are still at it.
VanDerveer, who on Dec. 15 became the sport’s winningest coach, has been the team’s head coach since 1985. The team has three titles.
The 2021-2022 season is Auriemma’s 37th as the head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program. The Huskies have 11 titles and were making an appearance in their 14th consecutive Final Four.
This matchup came after a nail-biting double-overtime thriller in Bridgeport, Conn., against North Carolina State on Monday. The Huskies were ranked No. 5 in the final AP Top 25 before the tournament. North Carolina’s Wolfpack were No. 3.
The trip to Minneapolis is also a homecoming for UConn’s star sophomore, Paige Bueckers. She grew up about 10 miles from the arena.
Bueckers, who once again led UConn with 14 points against Stanford, returned just last month after a serious knee injury.
“Two days ago I said, ‘Win or go home,’ but we won and I’m still going home,” she said. “This is crazy. I’m just so excited no matter the location, no matter where it is.”
South Carolina has made four Final Fours in seven seasons with one national championship appearance in 2017 in which they defeated Mississippi State.
South Carolina has already racked up major awards for the season. Coach Dawn Staley won the Naismith, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and U.S. Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year awards. And the Gamecocks’ star player Aliyah Boston won the Naismith, Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year and the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year awards.