Make it five years without a national title for the most decorated women’s college basketball team in America.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team -- the top-rated program in the country -- was stunned Friday night in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, losing 69-59 to Arizona.
UConn shot poorly and faced some physical defense in the loss, and freshman Paige Bueckers -- the Associated Press national player of the year -- fought hard to get her 18 points.
“They just tried to deny the ball and make everything hard -- catches, cuts, screening -- defensively tried to deny everything I did,” Bueckers said.
The Huskies never led. They shot 32% from the field with just 22 points by halftime. And it didn’t get much better from there. At one point, UConn trailed by 14 -- its largest deficit of the season. The Huskies got it to within five late but couldn’t come all the way back.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma began his postgame remarks by giving a shoutout to his opponent.
“They played amazing that first half, it was incredibly difficult for us to get anything done,” Auriemma said.
“I thought the intensity level that they played with and the aggressiveness on the defensive end -- we just didn’t respond as I’d hoped we would.”
It’s the fourth consecutive national semifinal that the 11-time national champions have lost.
Arizona lost to Stanford 54-53 Sunday night in the national championship game. UConn finished the season 28-2.
This post has been updated.