NCAA Women: Connecticut braces for big rematch

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STORRS, Conn. -- Stefanie Dolson has lost to Stanford once, as a freshman when the Cardinal broke Connecticut's 90-game win streak.

In November, No. 1 Connecticut beat then-No. 3 Stanford, 76-57, at Gampel Pavilion in a nationally televised game. The Huskies have beaten Stanford five of the past six times the teams have played.

But none of that will matter when they face off in the Final Four. Connecticut (38-0) will play Stanford (33-3) in a national semifinal Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

"You can learn a lot playing against a team one time," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "You can take it for granted if you're not careful. 'Well, we already beat this team so that's not going to be a problem.' I think if you do that, you're going to lose.

"It was so long ago, it seems like we played them last year. It seems like 12 months ago even though it was November. I think going into this weekend, I don't know that what happened in November is going to have any effect. ... I remember 2008 or 2009, we played them in St. Thomas, we were up 30 with 10 minutes left in the game, and we showed up at the Final Four and so did they, and we're missing Kalana [Greene] and Mel Thomas and they beat our butts.

"Whatever happens this weekend, it's not going to be predicated on what [has already] happened."

Stanford and Connecticut met in the Final Four three years in a row from 2008-10, with the Huskies losing the first time, 82-73, in Tampa, Fla., but then beating Stanford in the semifinals in 2009 in St. Louis and in 2010 in the final.

In 2010, Connecticut trailed the Cardinal, 20-12, at halftime of the championship in San Antonio but rallied in the second half to win, 53-47. And that was with Tina Charles and Maya Moore on the floor; the two All-Americans combined to shoot 3 for 14 in the first half. Nobody could have predicted that.

"You say, 'What are the chances two teams with 10 high school All-Americans on the floor play a game that's 20-12 [at halftime]?' " Auriemma said.

The players agreed that November's game has no bearing on Sunday.

"That was definitely a long time ago," Dolson said. "I know, for them, because we beat them earlier, that they're going to have an even bigger fire under their butt, and want to beat us more.

"But every team we play wants to beat us, so it doesn't really affect the way we think about the game. We still go into it knowing what game it is. We just have to focus on ourselves."

Senior Bria Hartley had 20 points in the November victory and said "both teams have improved" since then.

"Everybody who goes to college, all they talk about is I want to go to the Final Four, I want to win a national championship," Auriemma said. "Every high school kid in America, you go in their living room, that's the first thing they say. Saying it and doing it are two completely different things. For them to say it when they are in high school, and then to come here and actually do it -- I think sometimes we take that for granted. We don't understand how hard it is and what's involved.

"Those kids have gone to four Final Fours now. There's some schools that haven't gone to four Final Fours in their history. For them to do what they've done -- amazing."


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