Cash provides scoring, defensive punch for UConnPosted: Sunday March 31, 2002 11:29 PM
Updated: Monday April 01, 2002 12:12 AM
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Swin Cash was Connecticut's money player all season.
Nothing changed Sunday night in the Huskies' 82-70 national championship victory over Oklahoma.
The senior second-team All-America forward led the Huskies in scoring and rebounds during the season and was everywhere against the Sooners, dropping in 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. She also dished out four assists and made 10 of 12 free throws.
She was just as important on the defensive end, teaming with Tamika Williams to keep Oklahoma All-American Stacey Dales in check most the game.
In short, she did everything to earn Most Outstanding Player honors to cap UConn's 39-0 season.
"MVP makes it that much sweeter, but just to go out and have the game I had was great," Cash said after the Huskies were awarded their second national championship trophy in her career. The Huskies also won in 2000 when she was a sophomore.
None of it was anything new to the Huskies, who had watched Cash become just the second player in Big East history to lead the league in scoring (15.9 points) and rebounding (9.1) during the regular season.
"We challenged her before the game saying, 'You know Swin, we need you to dominate down low.'" Williams said.
That she did.
When UConn guards Sue Bird -- the national player of the year -- and Diana Taurasi were misfiring in the first half against the Sooners, Cash could hardly miss.
Posting up against Oklahoma's bigger but slower front-court duo of Jamie Talbert and Caton Hill, the slender Cash had little trouble sidestepping them for 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and jumping over them for seven first half-rebounds. She scored the game's first basket and had six of UConn's first eight points.
She even got physical when she had to.
"They were being more aggressive and bumping us around but we were not going to give in," Cash said. "That's what we go into the weight room for. We're not going to back down.
'We knew we had to be really tough on the offensive glass and go inside for easy buckets,' Cash said. "We just kept fighting all game long."
Her layup with 25 seconds left capped an 8-0 run that gave the Huskies a 42-30 halftime lead.
Although Oklahoma limited her touches in the second -- she was 0-of-2 shooting after halftime -- the Sooners couldn't keep her off the boards.
Cash had her 15th double-double of the season midway through the second half when she grabbed the rebound off a missed free throw by Dales.
She then produced the defensive play of the game.
Huskies guard Maria Conlon sent a lazy pass that Oklahoma's LaNeishea Caufield picked off, and she streaked toward the UConn basket.
Two steps behind at the start, the 6-foot-2 Cash used her long stride to catch Caufield by the foul line and reached up for clean block on the shot with her right hand.
She also drew Dales' fourth foul on a layup attempt with 7:53 to play after Oklahoma had just cut the Huskies' lead under 10. Although Cash missed the shot, she converted both free throws to push UConn's lead to 66-55.
"That's how you know Swin's locked into the game, when she's making free throws," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. Cash was a 69 percent foul shooter during the season.
Now she goes out with a senior class that finished 136-9 in their career as well as making at least a claim to being the greatest team in women's college history -- or least at UConn.
The 1995 Huskies went 35-0 in winning the school's first title.
"Going 39-0 and making history again," Cash said. "But you really can't compare [to 1995]. Are we one of the best? Yes."