UConn women's basketball team celebrates eighth national championship
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Fri., Apr. 12, 2013
Mansfield middle school students Sedona and Renee waited with their moms on the corner of North Eagleville Road and Route 195 to welcome home the national champion UConn Huskies women’s basketball team on April 10. The UConn women were due to arrive back on the Storrs campus after winning the national championship the night before in New Orleans, having defeated Louisville easily, with a final score of 93-60, to capture their eighth national title.
Sedona and Renee, both fifth-graders, play basketball together on the AAU Storm team. They’ve watched the lady Huskies all season, and had stayed up the night before to watch the game on television. “They shut Louisville down completely,” said Sedona. The girls’ favorite player this season, admired for her consistent contributions, was Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. But freshman Breanna Stewart, named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, had earned their admiration, as well. “She really stepped up her game for the last three games,” said Sedona.
A short distance away, on a slope overlooking Storrs Congregational Church, four UConn students sat waiting for the arrival of the team. Meghan Guara, Jamie Erdman and Sandy Matosz had all watched the game the night before at Gampel Pavilion, along with an estimated 1,500 other UConn fans. “They had three screens lined up near half-court,” said Guara. There were cheerleaders and a band at Gampel, “so it kind of felt like you were there, even though you weren’t,” added Guara, a sophomore biology major.
The fourth member of their party, Anna Dzilenski, had missed the final game. “I was in the library,” she said. But she came out to find a DJ playing tunes in front of the building, facilitating an impromptu, open-air dance party to celebrate the win. “You just came out and everybody was attracted to the music,” said Matosz. “It was fun.”
By 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, the scheduled arrival time, a small crowd had gathered at the corner, the designated starting point for a “victory lap” around campus. But there was no sign of the team. Live Tweets indicated that the Huskies had just pulled off the highway and were headed down Route 195. Before long, the appearance of two UConn police motorcycle escorts announced their arrival. A large Mack truck carried the pep band, the Husky mascot and the cheerleading squad, followed by a double-decker bus carrying the team. Many fans followed the entourage as it wound its way through campus, arriving finally at Fairfield Way Plaza, where a crowd estimated at 2,000 had gathered to welcome the team.
UConn officials in attendance included President Susan Herbst, football coach Paul Pasqualoni and Athletic Director Warde Manuel.
Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma addressed the crowd. “When you do something like we did last night, sometimes you don't realize because you're playing in it and it's basketball… you don't realize we didn't just win, what we did was give a whole bunch of people a reason to have a party,” said Auriemma. “The only thing we do better than championships in Storrs, Connecticut is - we party, man.”