- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

Unbeaten Connecticut has finished the regular season right where it started _ No. 1.

This was the second straight year the Huskies led The Associated Press women’s basketball poll. UConn was a unanimous choice for the 16th straight week Monday and ended the season at No. 1 for the eighth time.

“Obviously, it’s a great honor to finish the season No. 1. This team deserves it,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “They’ve done the things that No. 1 teams are supposed to do, and I’m happy for them. I’m proud of them, and I’m really proud of the fact that they didn’t pay any attention to it along the way.”

UConn (33-0), which will be the No. 1 overall seed when the NCAA tournament field is announced Monday night, ran through the regular season and the Big East tournament.

Tennessee, second all-time with five No. 1 finishes, continued its streak of appearing in every final poll. The Lady Vols had their worst finish at 18th, ending a string of 22 straight seasons finishing in the top 10. Their previous worst ranking was 15th in the 1986 final ballot.

The Huskies were followed by Stanford, Maryland, Oklahoma and Baylor. The Cardinal won their sixth Pac-10 tournament Sunday. Baylor topped Texas A&M; to win the Big 12 tournament. The fifth spot matched the Bears’ best-ever finish in the poll.

It’s no surprise UConn was a unanimous No. 1 for the last 16 weeks. The Huskies won by an average of 31 points, and no team could come within single digits. They have been the top team for an entire season twice before _ 1999-2000 and 2001-02. They won the national championship both times.

Duke finished sixth. The Blue Devils were followed by Louisville, Auburn, Texas A&M; and Ohio State.

Connecticut embarrassed Louisville in the championship game of the Big East tournament, jumping out to a 26-point halftime lead and never looking back.

North Carolina remained at 11th, despite barely beating South Dakota on Sunday. The Tar Heels were followed by Florida State, California, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh.

It’s the first time Florida State or Pittsburgh appeared in the final Top 25.

South Dakota State capped its year in the poll placing 16th. The Jackrabbits captured the Summit League championship, rallying to beat Oakland, Mich.

Iowa State was 17th, one spot in front of the Lady Vols.

Arizona State dropped three places to 19th after being upset by Southern Cal in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals. Xavier remained 20th.

Kansas State, Florida, Notre Dame, Virginia and Texas rounded out the poll.

___

Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford, Conn. contributed to this report.

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