Ranking The UConn Women's Championship Teams: The 2012-13 Season Comes In At No. 7

Throughout his coaching career, Geno Auriemma has always said you can't have a rival or a rivalry unless an opponent proves capable of winning on a regular basis.

It was that way with Providence and Seton Hall in the early days of the Big East when UConn did the chasing. And it certainly was that way against Tennessee, Rutgers and eventually Louisville in the Angel McCoughtry era.

And then there was Notre Dame, a program that had defeated the Huskies only four times from 1996 through the end of the Big East Tournament in 2011.

Something strange began to happen in 2012-13, the year the Huskies welcomed Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck to the program as freshmen.

The Huskies had just emerged from a two-year slump after winning its seventh national championship and had long since said goodbye to Tina Charles and Maya Moore.

On April 3, 2011, after rolling off 24 wins once Stanford ended their historic 90-game winning streak, and already beating Notre Dame three times, the Irish beat the Huskies in the national semifinals.

During the 2012-13 season, with Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson now juniors and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis a sophomore, Notre Dame continued to beat UConn when it mattered.

Three of UConn's four defeats in their 35-4 season were to Notre Dame, a one-point loss at Gampel in January, a three-overtime loss in the season-finale in South Bend and a two-point loss in the Big East Tournament final in Hartford.

Suddenly, Notre Dame had beaten UConn four straight and seven of eight as the NCAA Tournament began.

But the Huskies did not let that defeat them. Stewart, on her way to becoming the Final Four's MVP, scored 29 points in an 83-65 national semifinal win over the Irish. And two nights later, the Huskies crushed Louisville by 33 to win their eighth national championship.

For staring down one of the most imposing rivals in their history on the biggest stage, this national championship is rated the seventh best in UConn history.

Sharp-shooter: Mosqueda-Lewis finished the season shooting 49.2 percent from three-point range to lead the nation. She drained a program-record 118 threes.

Strong-willed: Senior Kelly Faris severely injured her ankle in the three-overtime loss at Notre Dame and yet preserved through the Big East Tournament and NCAAs to end her career with a national championship. She would become the first-round pick of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.

Historic: Stewart became just the third freshman in NCAA Division I history to be named most outstanding player. And UConn's margin of victory in the title game was the largest in NCAA Division I women's basketball history.

Up the Summitt: Auriemma's eight national championship tied him with Tennessee's Pat Summitt for the most in Division I women's basketball history.

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