The Gophers, the No. 7 seed out of the Mideast Regional, were coming off back-to-back wins over two of the four teams that had beaten UConn this year – Duke and Boston College. But on Sunday night in New Orleans, the Huskies were able to fend off the gutsy Gophers, who fell behind by as much as 11 but cut the Connecticut lead to 58-55 with less than 5 minutes to play.
The Gophers had three straight possessions when they could have cut the lead to one or tied it, but came up empty each time. Then UConn's Ann Strother drained a 3-pointer to put the Huskies up by six with 2-½ minutes to play, and that was all she wrote for Pam Borton's Gophers.
Whalen ended her brilliant career with an uncharacteristic 3-of-11 shooting night, but augmented her 11 points with seven rebounds and six assists. Junior center Janel McCarville led Minnesota with 18 points and seven rebounds, setting an NCAA record in the process with the most rebounds in a single NCAA tournament.
UConn outrebounded the Gophers 34-22 and corralled 12 offensive rebounds, keeping possessions alive and often scoring with their second and third chances. Senior all-American Diana Taurasi led the Huskies with 18 points, but Minnesota's Shannon Bolden pestered her into a 6-of-17 night from the floor.
The Huskies will try to win their third consecutive NCAA title on Tuesday night when they take on Tennessee. The Volunteers advanced with a 52-50 victory over LSU in the first game of the night.
Dream season ends for Gopher women
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