ST. LOUIS – One more game, and Connecticut has the perfect finish.
All those others who would stand in their way? They’re not even close.
Renee Montgomery scored 26 points, Maya Moore added 24, and unbeaten UConn cruised to its first title game in five years with an 83-64 victory over Stanford on Sunday night.
The outcome never in doubt, Connecticut overwhelmed Stanford, crushing the latest challenger to the Huskies’ bid for a third undefeated season and sixth national championship.
“I don’t think there is anything greater than winning your last college game,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t know if there is anything that could top that.”
UConn will face Louisville for the title Tuesday night, setting up the first all-Big East final in NCAA women’s basketball history. The Cardinals missed their first 13 shots before rallying to beat Oklahoma 61-59.
UConn (38-0) already has routed Louisville twice this year, including dismantling the Cardinals 75-36 in the Big East tournament championship game in early March.
“I wish we were playing anyone but Louisville,” Auriemma said. “Anyone, I don’t care who. The last team you want to play is a team you beat the way we beat them the two times we beat them, especially the last time we played them.”
The Huskies have made almost everyone look silly this season, winning by nearly 31 points a game and not allowing a team to come within single digits.
With an imposing lineup that featured five starters over 6-feet, Stanford (33-5) was supposed to challenge Connecticut. The Cardinal were the last team to beat Connecticut, knocking them out of the Final Four last season.
That challenge didn’t last long – just like most of the other ranked teams UConn has faced this season.
After Jayne Appel got off to a quick start, the Huskies swarmed the Stanford star on defense, sometimes sending four players at her. The Cardinal couldn’t stop Renee Montgomery on the other end, who sliced through Stanford’s defense with ease.
“They went on a run where one time we totally lost Montgomery,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “For their team they really capitalized on any time someone was open.”
Appel finished with 26 points, but she had little help. Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 12 points and 12 rebounds and Kayla Pedersen added 10 points.
Louisville 61, Oklahoma 59: At St. Louis, Angel McCoughtry and Louisville played the second half like they belonged in their first Final Four.
McCoughtry scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds, helping Louisville crawl out of an early hole to beat Oklahoma and end Courtney Paris’ stellar career.
Oklahoma’s Nyeshia Stevenson had a good look on a 3-point attempt in the final seconds that rattled out.