Staley and Auriemma could meet next year for another title

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dawn Staley and Geno Auriemma hugged in midfield after South Carolina ended UConn’s undefeated run in NCAA championship games.

It was the first time the coaches met on women’s basketball’s biggest stage and it may not be the last with so many talented players returning for both teams next season, including the final two players. AP of the Year to Aliyah Boston of South Carolina and Paige Bueckers. of UConn.

“It’s hard to say every year what could happen,” Auriemma said. to navigate a season like we did this year, knock on wood. If we stay healthy, I expect to be back next year.


The first clash went to the Gamecocks in dominant fashion, a 64-49 win on Sunday that gave Staley his second national championship in two title games. It left Auriemma with her first loss in 12 tries.

“Look at the tradition of UConn and what they were able to do,” Staley said. “They are the norm. If it takes winning 11 national championships to be a dynasty, I’m probably going to fail because I won’t be in the game long enough for us to win 11.”

She set her own standard though. The win made Staley the first black Division I men’s or women’s basketball coach to win two national championships, securing his first in 2017.

“I felt a lot of pressure to win because I’m a black coach,” she said. “Because if we don’t win, then you bring in so many more, just scrutiny. Like you can’t coach, you had enough to do it, but you failed. You feel it all, and you probably feel it 10 times more than anyone else because we’re on this platform.

Staley said she felt she could inspire other black coaches.

“If I can be that beacon of hope, if I can be their vessel for them to succeed, you know I’m a willing donor to this game, because this game has given me so much.”

Sunday night gave Staley another championship.

“We played every possession like it was our last possession,” Staley said. “They were determined to be champions today.”

A year ago, South Carolina lost in the Final Four when Boston missed a layup before the buzzer.

“Obviously, I’ve been thinking about it since last season. Everyone had a picture of me crying,” said Boston, who was the Final Four MVP. “Today we are national champions and I am in tears.”

With Staley in charge in a Louis Vuitton letter jacket, South Carolina took UConn to school on the boards and crowned a wire-to-wire run as the nation’s No. Associated Press.

“They deserved it 100%,” Auriemma said. “They were the best team all year. The first five minutes I thought they came out and set the tone on the spot for how the game was going to be played.

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More March Madness AP coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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