Cicero-North Syracuse graduate Breanna Stewart celebrates with a piece of the net after her University of Connecticut Huskies defeated Notre Dame 79-58 in last Tuesday night's NCAA championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Stewart, a sophomore, had 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the final as UConn won its second straight national title and completed a perfect 40-0 season, with Stewart named both the Final Four Most Outstanding Player and, for the season, chosen as AP's National Player of the Year.
So far, the dreams and hopes that Cicero-North Syracuse's Breanna Stewart carried with her to the University of Connecticut have all worked out - to perfection.
Stewart's sophomore season ended just like her freshman season did, as the Huskies won yet another NCAA women's basketball championship Tuesday night by handling Notre Dame 79-58 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
This particular time, UConn made all kinds of history, winning a record ninth NCAA title for head coach Geno Auriemma, completing a perfect 40-0 season and joining their male counterparts for a rare national championship double to match the one pulled off by these same Huskies in 2004.
At the heart of it all was Stewart, who in her sophomore season was chosen as the Associated Press National Player of the Year, among many other honors, and then was named Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four, just as she was a year ago in New Orleans.
Right from the start of the season, Stewart and UConn dealt with the program's usual high expectations, knowing that anything short of a national title would be considered an underachievement.
And it did so amid conference turmoil. Long a member of the Big East, UConn escaped that league to join the fledgling American Athletic Conference, where on the women's side the Huskies would contend with Louisville, the same team it beat in the 2013 national championship game.
The season started Nov. 9 with UConn romping past Hartford 89-34. A series of big non-conference wins over two other eventual Final Four participants, Stanford (76-57) and Maryland (72-55), immediately followed, as did victories over Penn State (71-52) and Duke (83-61).
Once American Athletic Conference play began, no one would get close to the Huskies, including Louisville, who lost by margins of 81-64 and 68-48 in the regular season and then 72-52 in the league tournament final March 10 at Uncasville, Conn.