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UConn women will be favorites to win 11th title next year

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Who Is More Successful - Coach K or Geno Auriemma?


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies will be the leading contenders to make another championship run next season. It would be an unprecedented 11th title that would eclipse John Wooden's UCLA Bruins and their 10 championships.

If they can pull it off, Breanna Stewart would accomplish her goal of winning four championships at UConn.

"I think it's really surreal and I haven't had a chance to even think about that," Stewart said after the Huskies beat Notre Dame 63-53 on Tuesday night in the title game. "I've won three national championships, but said I wanted to win four, you can't win four without winning three first."

Stewart, the two-time AP Player of the Year, is one of four starters returning and they will be joined by another stellar incoming recruiting class. She earned most outstanding player of the Final Four for the third time, making her the first woman to achieve that. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the only men's player to do it when he played for the Wizard of Westwood.

"There just hasn't been a player like Stewie in the women's game in a long, long time," Auriemma said. "She might be two inches taller than Cheryl Miller and Cheryl Miller was one of best players I saw. ... Stewie's the kind of player that women's basketball probably hasn't seen."

Stewart had only eight points in Tuesday night's win, but she got a big lift from her teammates. Moriah Jefferson scored 15 points and played stellar defense on Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd.

"She should have been the M.O.P," said Stewart of her classmate Jefferson.

The Huskies do lose Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes to graduation. Mosqueda-Lewis also had 15 points and came up with big plays when the Huskies needed her most.

"I'm glad the two buckets that `K' made down the stretch were kind of the difference in the game," Auriemma said. "That's the way she's supposed to go out."

Auriemma, 10 for 10 in national championship games, has won his titles over a 20-year span. Wooden won his 10 over 12 years.

"Obviously it's a very significant number because that's the number that's been out there and people want to talk about it. I'll be the first to say I'm not John Wooden and I got a bunch of friends who'd tell you I'm right, I'm not," Auriemma said. "As I said the other day I just think what we've done here in the last 20 years is pretty remarkable in its own right.

"I'll let the people who write the history decide where I fit in."

If Auriemma does win No. 11 next year, Stewart will play a huge role.

Auriemma took Stewart out with about 30 seconds to play and gave her a big hug. The 6-foot-4 star is the latest in a long line of outstanding UConn players that Auriemma has coached, including Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore.

"I just know that in our sport, from 1995 to today, what we've done against our peers is as good, if not better, than anybody else has done in their sport against their peers," Auriemma said. "I don't care whether it's harder in that sport."

Auriemma won his title one night after fellow USA Basketball Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth men's championship at Duke.

"Our Dad was very proud of Geno and Mike and how throughout their years as collegiate head basketball coaches they have diligently led their student-athletes to be successful on the court, in the classroom and in their lives," Wooden's children Nan and Jim Wooden said in a statement.

Coach Muffet McGraw had her team back in the championship game for the fourth time in five seasons. The Irish have come up short each time, including the last two against UConn.

Notre Dame's lone title came in 2001.

"It was a great accomplishment to get here," McGraw said. "Was disappointing we weren't able to play our game."

Loyd had 12 points for the Irish, going 4 for 18 from the field. She missed all eight of her shots in the second half.

The Irish (36-3) trailed just 31-23 at the half, and cut it to five to start the second half. But UConn scored seven straight to open up a double-digit advantage. The Irish wouldn't go away, thanks to Brianna Turner, who missed the earlier meeting which the Huskies won by 18 points.

She had 14 points - eight straight in the second half, including banking in a shot from the top of the key as the shot clock was reaching zero. That got the Irish to 54-48.

After the teams traded baskets, Mosqueda-Lewis scored seven straight, including a 3-pointer, to restore the double-digit advantage with just over 4 minutes left, and Notre Dame couldn't recover.

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UConn women will be favorites to win 11th title next year
CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 28: Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks over Andrew Harrison #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the Midwest Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 28, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 27: Denzel Valentine #45 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates with teammate Travis Trice #20 after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 62 to 58 during the East Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 27, 2015 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 27: Brandon Taylor #11 of the Utah Utes and Tyus Jones #5 of the Duke Blue Devils dive for a loose ball in the second half during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 26: Andrew Harrison #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives to the basket against Jevon Carter #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 30: The Maryland Terrapins Women's Basketball Team celebrate a 58-48 victory over the Tennessee Lady Vols in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 30, 2015 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 26: Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers drives on Joel James #42 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half during the West Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 22: Jamari Traylor #31 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots over Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the third round game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 22, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19: Isaiah Dennis #4 and T.J. Shipes #31 of the Georgia State Panthers celebrate after the Panthers win 57-56 against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 19: Myles Turner #52 rebounds and comes down on top of Connor Lammert #21 of the Texas Longhorns in the first half against the Butler Bulldogs during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 19: T.J. Williams #10 of the Northeastern Huskies goes up against Pat Connaughton #24 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19: Delon Wright #55 of the Utah Utes controls the ball under the basket against Dallas Cameron #12 of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the first half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 19, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 19: Jerian Grant #22 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks against the Northeastern Huskies in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19: Rico Gathers #2 of the Baylor Bears dunks the ball in the first half against R.J. Hunter #22 of the Georgia State Panthers during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 19: Kevin Johnson #25 of the Cincinnati Bearcats pulls down a rebound against the Purdue Boilermakers during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the KFC YUM! Center on March 19, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19: Isaiah Hicks #22 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Wesley Saunders #23 of the Harvard Crimson battle for a loose ball during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19: Joel Berry II lays in a basket against the Harvard Crimson during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19: Melvin Johnson #32 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams looks on after losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes in overtime, 75-72, during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 19, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Jamari Traylor #31 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: DK Eldridge #1 of the New Mexico State Aggies reacts against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: The Kansas Jayhawks bench reacts in the closing minutes against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks looks to pass as DK Eldridge #1 of the New Mexico State Aggies defends during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Landen Lucas #33 of the Kansas Jayhawks goes for a layup as Johnathon Wilkins #11 of the New Mexico State Aggies defends during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19: Trey Pinkney #10 of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks passes around Chris Reyes #20 of the Utah Utes in the first half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 19, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 19: Melvin Johnson #32 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams defends an inbound play against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 19, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 19: Bryce Alford #20 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates with Isaac Hamilton #10 after defeating Southern Methodist Mustangs during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournamenat at the KFC YUM! Center on March 19, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Josh Gasser #21 of the Wisconsin Badgers blocks a shot by Elijah Wilson #22 of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the first half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 21: Andrew Chrabascz #45 of the Butler Bulldogs drives to the basket against Bonzie Colson #35 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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