Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Connecticut culminated the program's fifth undefeated season in convincing fashion in a national championship game that was billed as a battle of unbeatens, but turned into another showcase for the Huskies' dominance in women's basketball.
Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson had their way against undersized Notre Dame, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was nearly as unstoppable on the perimeter as UConn handled the Fighting Irish, 79-58, to capture a record ninth title for the program.
The rout put an exclamation point on several notable records for the back-to- back champs, who joined the 2011-12 Baylor squad as the only 40-0 teams in women's history and repeated a feat the school accomplished 10 years ago when both the men's and women's teams won the NCAA Tournament.
Geno Auriemma also passed Pat Summitt with his ninth championship as the Huskies' head coach improved to 9-0 all-time in the title games.
"There really isn't much that you can say when we have a performance like that where your players are just really locked into what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it," Auriemma said. "It's just an incredible effort by the entire team."
Notre Dame did its part in making Tuesday's game an unprecedented one, as the Irish overcame an injury to one of their best players and downed Maryland in the Final Four to set up the first ever NCAA Tournament title game -- men or women's -- between undefeated programs.
But without senior forward Natalie Achonwa, who suffered a torn ACL in the regional final, the Irish (37-1) had no answer inside for the combination of Stewart and Dolson, who spurred an absurd 52-22 advantage in the paint.
"Right from the beginning of the game we went in, took advantage of the size we had against them," Dolson said. "And right when we realized what an advantage we had, we just kept kind of pushing it at them, and we never really backed down."
The frontcourt duo combined for 18 of the Huskies' first 22 points as they raced out to a 22-8 lead.
A slew of Notre Dame 3-pointers, including two by Jewell Loyd in the final minute-plus of the half, cut into the deficit and had the Irish within 43-38. Mosqueda-Lewis, though, ended the half with an putback following one of the 22 offensive rebounds for the Huskies.
It was much of the same in the second half.
Stewart laid in an errant Mosqueda-Lewis 3-pointer to rebuild the double-digit lead, 51-40, less than four minutes in, and an 8-0 run, highlighted by Dolson's three-point play off yet another putback, stretched the margin to 63-42.
The closest Notre Dame got over the final 10 minutes was 17.
The Irish had won seven of the eight meetings against their former Big East rivals before losing to them in last year's Final Four. This was the third time they have reached the title game in the last four years and lost, with their only title coming in 2001.
Stewart, who won the Naismith Trophy on Monday, finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, Dolson donated 17 and 16 and Mosqueda-Lewis chipped in 18 points in the blowout.
Kayla McBride paced Notre Dame with 21 points while Loyd added 13 on 4-of-15 shooting.
"They just came out and they went directly in the post, and our help side wasn't there from the get-go. They got comfortable. They got into a rhythm, and it went downhill from there," a disappointed McBride said.