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“Each year is different … special in its own way,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “This is our last go-around. We want to go out with a bang. I’m fortunate to be part of this program where we make it every year. We never are satisfied until we get to that final game.”

The Huskies have run through their four opponents so far, winning by an average of 39 points, including a 30-point victory over Kentucky in the regional final on Monday night. UConn’s only losses this season came to the Irish and Lady Bears.

The Irish’s only loss this season came at home against Baylor. They’ve won 30 straight games since en route to a second straight conference title and the first Big East tournament championship in school history.

While UConn and Notre Dame are Final Four veterans, Cal is making its first trip to the national semifinals and Louisville returns for the first time since 2009.

Cal (32-3) survived overtime games against South Florida in the second round and Georgia in the regional final to become the first team from the West other than Stanford to reach the national semifinals since Long Beach State in 1988.

During that 25-year span, eight different programs in the West have reached the regional finals. But whether it was Long Beach State, Washington, USC, UCLA, Colorado, Utah, Arizona State or Gonzaga, they all came up one game short _ sometimes at the hands of Stanford _ of advancing.

“These kids are brought in,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “So many things go into it and then you have to get a little lucky and then things have to go right, so I’m really conscious of this is special.”

Gottlieb was in elementary school the last time a West Coast women’s basketball program not named Stanford reached the Final Four.

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