UConn beats top-seeded Louisville to reach historic 12th straight Final Four

Throughout 2019, there have been signs. A few small hints. Hints that the stratospheric dominance of UConn women’s basketball was waning. There were hints in Storrs last weekend and Albany two days ago. Hints in Louisville in late-January, Waco in early-January, and on Selection Monday, when the Huskies, for the first time since 2006, did not earn a No. 1 seed.

Yet on Sunday, the streak continued. Of course it did.

The second-seeded Huskies toppled top-seeded Louisville in the Elite Eight, 80-73, booking a place in the Final Four for the 12th consecutive season. That’s an NCAA tournament record, for women or men. Of course it is.

UConn got 29 points from senior star Katie Lou Samuelson, who hit seven of her 12 3-pointers and eight of nine free throws. It got double-figures from all five starters to best a Louisville team that had dealt it one of two regular-season losses.

That defeat, coupled with one to Baylor – UConn’s first in the regular season in over five years, since November 2014 – knocked the Huskies off the top seed line two weeks ago. And through three rounds, the selection committee looked smart. No. 10 seed Buffalo hung with the Huskies. Sixth-seeded UCLA tested them in the Sweet 16.

But UConn, which hadn’t lost in the Elite Eight since 2007, was not going to lose Sunday. It hit 14 of its 26 3-pointers. It almost blew an 11-point lead in the final two minutes, with Louisville forcing a few turnovers and slashing that lead to two.

See photos from the women's tournament: 

18 PHOTOS
The best photos from the women's NCAA Tournament so far
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The best photos from the women's NCAA Tournament so far
Connecticut guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) reacts after hitting a three-point basket while being fouled Louisville forward Sam Fuehring (3) during the second half of a regional championship final in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Connecticut forward Napheesa Collier (24), guard Crystal Dangerfield, center, and guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) celebrate after defeating Louisville in a regional championship final in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Missouri State players celebrate after defeating Iowa State 69-60 in a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Monday, March 25, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Stanford's Kiana Williams (23) celebrates with her teammates after a regional semifinal game against Missouri State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Chicago. Stanford won 55-46. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Arizona State guard Reili Richardson, front, shoots in front of Mississippi State guard Jazzmun Holmes during the first half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, March 29, 2019, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
PALO ALTO, CA - MARCH 25: Dijonai Carrington #21 and Alanna Smith #11 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrate a Smith three-pointer against the BYU Cougars during the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Maples Pavilion on March 25, 2019 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - MARCH 25: Alanna Smith #11 of the Stanford Cardinal and teammates including, from left, Lexie Hull #12, Maya Dodson #15 and Shannon Coffee #2 celebrate beating the BYU Cougars during the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Maples Pavilion on March 25, 2019 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Getty Images)
Buffalo's Autumn Jones (13) reacts during the first half of a second-round women's college basketball game against Connecticut in the NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Bethune-Cookman's Amaya Scott (2) reaches for a rebound next to Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale, left, and Brianna Turner during a first-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, March 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Notre Dame's Abby Prohaska (12) goes up to shoot under pressure from Michigan State's Shay Colley during a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in South Bend, Ind., Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales, right, dives for a loose ball under Auburn guard Brooke Moore during the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, March 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Radford guard Khiana Johnson (4) tries to maintain possession as she is pressured by Maryland guard Channise Lewis in the second half of first-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 73-51. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters watches during the second half of the team's game against Liberty in the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Missouri State forward Abby Hipp, center, celebrates the team's 69-60 win over Iowa State in a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Monday, March 25, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Oregon's Satou Sabally, left, Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard, right, come off the bench in celebration of the team's 78-40 victory over Portland State in a first-round game of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2019, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
South Dakota center Hannah Sjerven (34) crashes into Clemson guard Danielle Edwards, left, while trying to dribble past in the NCAA Tournament in Starkville, Miss., Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Missouri guard Jordan Chavis, left, fights for a loose ball with Drake guard Brenni Rose during a first-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. Missouri won 77-76 in overtime. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa forward Hannah Stewart, front, fights for a rebound with Mercer center Rachel Selph during a first-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 66-61. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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But the Huskies held on. They’re off to Tampa. They’ll await the winner of No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 2 seed Stanford. And they’ll attempt to cap off a peerless quarter-century of dominance with their 12th national title in 25 years.

UConn’s quarter-century of dominance

Since winning its first national championship in 1995, UConn has only failed to make the Final Four six times. Here’s a chronological look at their run:

  • 1995: Champion

  • 1996: Final Four

  • 1997: Elite Eight

  • 1998: Elite Eight

  • 1999: Sweet 16

  • 2000: Champion

  • 2001: Final Four

  • 2002: Champion

  • 2003: Champion

  • 2004: Champion

  • 2005: Sweet 16

  • 2006: Elite Eight

  • 2007: Elite Eight

  • 2008: Final Four

  • 2009: Champion

  • 2010: Champion

  • 2011: Final Four

  • 2012: Final Four

  • 2013: Champion

  • 2014: Champion

  • 2015: Champion

  • 2016: Champion

  • 2017: Final Four

  • 2018: Final Four

  • 2019: Advanced to Final Four with win over Louisville

The Huskies have been upset in national semifinals two years in a row now. Notre Dame and Arike Ogunbowale, the cause of their downfall last year, could be their Final Four opponent again. This year, they might not even be favored.

But would you really doubt Geno Auriemma and UConn on the big stage? The streak, and everything about the past 25 years, suggest that would be unwise.

Look back at UConn's domination: 

11 PHOTOS
Every UConn Women's March Madness championship
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Every UConn Women's March Madness championship

1995 vs. Tennessee

(Photo by Bob Stowell/Getty Images)

2000 vs. Tennessee

(Photo by Andy Lyons via Getty Images)

2002 vs. Oklahoma

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2003 vs. Tennessee

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2004 vs. Tennessee

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2009 vs. Louisville

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2010 vs. Stanford

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

2013 vs. Louisville

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

2014 vs. Notre Dame

(John Woike/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images)

2015 vs. Notre Dame

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

2016 vs. Syracuse

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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