Update: 0:00 — There was some doubt early, but UConn’s tremendous perimeter defense made the difference. After all these months, it’ll be UConn and Notre Dame. The first ever matchup of unbeatens in the national championship game. It’s truly unfortunate that Natalie Achonwa won’t play (torn ACL). Without her, the Irish will be overmatched inside. It’ll be up to Jewell Lloyd and Kayla McBride, who poured in 28 versus Maryland Sunday, to keep the Irish going.
No official prediction here (at least not yet), but I expect it to be relatively close. As Kara Lawson said on the ESPN broadcast, we haven’t yet seen Connecticut’s A-game in the postseason.
See you from Nashville Tuesday.
Update: 0:37 –– Just checked the stat sheet. What do you know? Breanna Stewart had 18 points and seven boards. Quietly a very solid night for the sophomore.
Update: 1:46 — It’s about time they check the floor. Bodies have been flying in the paint all half.
Update: 3:46 — It’ll be interesting to watch Kiah Stokes assume a larger role next season. Freakish length. Great athleticism. She could become one of the nation’s best centers as a senior.
Update: 5:08 — Imagine if Stanford hadn’t hit on about three or four prayers? This would be…if my math is correct… a 23-point game.
Update: 7:00 — Yikes, Moriah Jefferson is quick. She’s operating at her own speed out there.
Update: 8:13 — Ah, there she is. The female Kevin Durant hits from 3 and UConn threatens to open this lead past 20.
Update: 9:22 — What’s most impressive? UConn has handled Stanford and Breanna Stewart has largely been a non-factor offensively.
Update: 10:26 — I find it hard to believe (not impossible) that UConn is 15-20 points better than Notre Dame. It’s unfortunate we won’t be able to see the Irish at full-strength to find out.
Update: 13:11 — I wonder what the line will be for UConn/Notre Dame? Huskies by 8.5? 9?
Update: 15:54 — Mikaela Ruef just clapped the kind of clap that suggests, “We’re screwed.” If this doesn’t get to 20 points, I’ll be surprised.
Update: 16:34 — Tara VanDerveer calls timeout. She pretty much had to, but you get the feeling that no pep talk or X’s and O’s instruction will save Stanford here. If you’re launching shots you’d take in H-O-R-S-E and they’re taking layups, you’ve got no chance.
Update: 18:10 — UConn zoning Stanford. The Cardinal still struggling on offense. Stanford’s best bet is to get it down low to Ogwumike. Or to get lucky on a bunch of 3s. So far, they’re taking the latter option.
Update: 0:00 — All things considered, Stanford is fortunate to be down just 28-24. UConn’s defense was smothering throughout the final 10 minutes. Unless Stanford finds better looks at the basket, it has absolutely no shot. This has the makings of a 15-20 point UConn victory.
Update: 2:32 — This UConn “comeback” (and I use that term loosely) was built on defense. Stanford is getting horrible looks with the shot clock winding down. The Huskies are getting great looks in the paint whenever they want. You can feel the tide turning.
Update: 4:40 — Eventually the jumpers will fall for UConn. Eventually Stanford will miss on its circus 3-pointers. Huskies fans should feel alright right now.
Update: 6:20 — Oh my. Stanford is gunning on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. That’s the formula, I guess. And a wild bank shot 3-pointer doesn’t hurt. As Kara Lawson just said, that’s the kind of stuff required in monumental upsets. It’s how Louisville beat Baylor last season.
Update: 7:35 — UConn is 0-for-7 from deep on shots it is fully capable of hitting. Maybe it’s time to just feed Stewart and let her work in the post/midrange. She’s heading to the line after the break. UConn trails 18-14.
Update: 10:24 — Those are the kind of plays that can change a game. UConn is really struggling in the halfcourt, so Moriah Jefferson gets an easy bucket on a strip-and-score. It’s 16-14 Stanford.
Update: 11:50 — Freaking out UConn fans? It’s still very, very early. This is the first legitimate test UConn has had in a while, and the Huskies do appear a bit jittery, particularly on offense. What’s concerning? Stanford doesn’t look like it’s too nervous.
Then again, the pressure is always on the unbeaten team, not the team looking to pull off a stunner.
Update: 13:04 — Some very poor offense on the past few possessions from UConn. It’s 16-10 Stanford. Tied for the largest deficit of the Huskies’ season.
Update: 14:57 — First “Oh My God” play from Breanna Stewart. It’s true: There has never been a women’s player like her.
Update: 15:45 — Great tweet from the Norwalk Hour’s John Nash. He said he overheard, on TV, this from the Stanford huddle: “Nobody’s (expletive) perfect. Not even UConn!”
Update: 18:57 — Was about to say uh-oh. Two possessions and two buckets for UConn. Stanford gets a very important two.