- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The defensive game plan was solid, the execution perfect. Stanford kept Maya Moore, Tina Charles and the entire Connecticut team from scoring for a stretch of 10 minutes, 37 seconds.

And it still wasn’t enough. The Cardinal were missing too many shots of their own.

Stanford indeed went ahead during the Huskies’ scoreless run, but not nearly far enough. It seemed inevitable Connecticut would eventually get going and, sure enough, the Huskies proved to be too much for the Cardinal.

Stanford fell to UConn 53-47 — the Huskies’ 78th straight victory and second straight national title.

Stanford made UConn work harder than it ever had before during this streak, the six-point margin the closest any team has come to victory.

But Cardinal players, coaches fans know they could’ve had the real prize: the streak-buster.

Stanford put UConn in its biggest hole of the season (nine points) and made the Huskies play from behind for longer than they had all season (19:07). Yet coach Tara VanDerveer’s club cost itself the chance at the upset by not making those numbers more lopsided.

By making only 8 of 31 shots in the first half, the halftime lead was only 20-12. Imagine that: They gave up the fewest points ever allowed in a women’s Final Four game and were ahead by only eight.

Against the Huskies, it wasn’t enough.

The Cardinal opened the second half 0 of 7, and 1 of 12.

By the time, JJ Hones made a 3-pointer for Stanford’s second basket of the second half, the Huskies already were on their way.

The Cardinal made one last valiant push, hitting three late 3s to get within 47-40 with 1:12 left, but their missed opportunity in the first half, then second-half shooting slumps that crept to 2 of 19 and 3 of 28 were just too much to overcome.

There’s some solace to be taken by having given UConn a good scare — but not much.

Not for VanDerveer, who remains without a national championship since 1992, despite six trips to the Final Four and two appearances in the title game.

Not for senior Jayne Appel, who ended her terrific career going scoreless and 0-for-12, plus leaving briefly with a twist of her already achy right ankle.

Not even for Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a sophomore who was the Pac-10 player of the year and can look forward to being joined next season by her sister.

Ogwumike went from scoring 38 points in the semifinal to having only 11. She was 2 of 7 in the first half, when her teammates really needed her to carry the scoring load. She finished 5 of 14, and had 13 rebounds.

Kayla Pedersen was Stanford’s top player, with 15 points and 17 rebounds. Jeanette Pohlen had 11 points.

Pedersen and Pohlen each was 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. The rest of the team was 2 of 12 behind the arc.

Stanford came close. Not as close as Butler in the men’s final, but close enough to wonder about what might’ve been had it taken better advantage of UConn’s awful first half.

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