UConn women back in Final Four with latest shot to replicate past March Madness glory

In the moment, UConn’s 2016 title marked the end of an era, but it has since served as the peak the Huskies are still trying to get back to.

Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson — the class that compiled a 151-5 record — left for the WNBA following that NCAA Tournament.

They built the foundation for what became Connecticut’s 111-game winning streak. They won four titles to give the program 11.

Paige Bueckers has led UConn to an underdog run to the Final Four.
Paige Bueckers has led UConn to an underdog run to the Final Four. Getty Images

But the Huskies haven’t won a national title the past six seasons entering their Final Four matchup Friday against Iowa.

It’s their longest drought since winning their first one in 1995.

They’ve made five national semifinals, advanced to one championship and still filled rosters with stars — including Paige Bueckers, who helped engineer an underdog run this year.

Until their next championship, though, 2016 will serve as the final link to a historic era UConn has yet to replicate.

“There was a trust and a bond that was built and kind of a relentless attitude that kind of came out of that for them — an understanding that even though we had won [in 2015], we had had some hiccups along the way,” Marisa Moseley, a UConn assistant in 2015-16 and current Wisconsin head coach, told The Post.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma
UConn coach Geno Auriemma Getty Images

Coaches never addressed the possibility of finishing undefeated as it unfolded, Moseley said.

It wasn’t the goal. Wasn’t the focus.

Head coach Geno Auriemma’s “point of emphasis,” according to Minnesota Lynx star Napheesa Collier, dated back to the previous season, when the Huskies lost to Stanford in November 2014 and ended up winning the 2015 NCAA Tournament at 38-1.

At the time, the Cardinal spoiled the Huskies’ bid for consecutive undefeated campaigns — they hadn’t lost a game in 2013-14.

“We’re not untouchable, and if you’re not careful, people can still come up and beat you,” Collier, a freshman in 2015-16, recalled Auriemma saying.

Winning and advancing to high-pressure postseason games has always been the expectation at UConn, Los Angeles Sparks star Kia Nurse told The Post, but there wasn’t a fear of messing everything up with one loss.

If anything, Nurse added, she felt more pressure the following season trying to keep their winning streak alive as it neared 111.

UConn still recruited top players in the seasons that followed, including Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards and KK Arnold on its current roster.

But the Huskies dealt with injuries and tournament losses, falling short of something that never seemed elusive and always seemed inevitable.

This year, the Huskies turned a 4-3 start into their latest Final Four trip.

They just needed a different route than in 2015-16 to have a chance.

“If you had asked me this a month ago, two months ago if we would be here, I would have said it would take a miracle,” Auriemma told reporters Tuesday.


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