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Thursday, March 5 University of Connecticut

Seniors Dolson, Hartley helped UConn maintain national title focus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The topic was almost viewed as taboo. The more members of the UConn women's basketball team were asked to provide their thoughts about making history over the past several months, the more they shied away from responding.

Anchored by All-America seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, the top-ranked Huskies were too focused on their goal to be distracted by even the thought of solidifying UConn as the most accomplished program in the sport and solidifying Geno Auriemma as its most accomplished coach. The goal was not to win an NCAA-record ninth national championship this season. The goal was simply to win a national championship.

The Huskies accomplished their goal Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena with a dominating 79-58 win over arch-rival Notre Dame. Now that they had completed their triumphant journey, they had plenty to say as confetti rained down from high above.

"It's awesome," Hartley said. "We played really well this year. A perfect season, that's hard to do. But we know we had our ups and downs and stuff that we had to really work on. And we persevered through all that. When Coach was getting on us all the time in practice, we made sure we worked really hard. We proved (Tuesday) why we're the best team in the country."

In an imperfect season that saw five full-scholarship players miss at least one game due to injury or illness, the Huskies (40-0) were perfect. They matched Baylor's 2012 championship team for the NCAA single-season record for wins in extending their winning streak to 46 games. They also further exorcised the demon that is Notre Dame with their second straight win over the Irish in the Final Four.

"It means a lot," Dolson said. "There's really no explaining it. To be able to go out senior year with a national championship, second in a row, undefeated, everything worked out perfectly. And it was all because of my teammates and all because of our coaches this year. We just wo