TAMPA — Geno Auriemma was hurting.
You could see it in his eyes. You could hear it in his voice.
And after his No. 1-seeded Huskies fell to Stanford 82-73 on Sunday in the semifinals, the legendary coach had a difficult time putting the season into perspective.
"There's no words to describe what it means to put everything, your heart and soul, into something and come up short," Auriemma said. "The one thing I will say is it's unfortunate that the season comes down to one weekend and if it doesn't go your way, the other five months seem to have no meaning.
"And that's why this is such a difficult game to lose; or the next game if you lose that one. Because all you remember now, today, at this point, is what happened in those 40 minutes."
For UConn (36-2), this one was particularly difficult to swallow. It hadn't lost since Feb. 5, was trying to win its first title since 2004 and beat the same Stanford team 66-54 in November.
"The incredible effort it takes to get here and in a span of 40 minutes, it's gone," Auriemma said.
FABULOUS FROSH: The roster says Kayla Pederson is a freshman. Sometimes, it just doesn't seem like it. The 6-foot-4 forward went 8-of-14 from the field, scored 17 points (second on the team to All-American guard Candice Wiggins) and grabbed seven rebounds.
"First of all," Wiggins said, "Kayla is not a freshman. She hasn't played like that since the first game she played in a Stanford uniform."
PLAY THEN RELAX: Coach Tara VanDerveer said she was glad Stanford played in the opener. Especially because she won.
"I love playing the first game," she said. "As soon as I can, I'll be out there watching the tipoff (of LSU-Tennessee) and try to figure out who we're going to play and what we need to do."
MAN IN THE STANDS: Auriemma plans to attend Tuesday's final. He joked that he has no choice.
"I'm on the (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) board of directors. So I was told I have to be here," he said. "But I would watch it anyway. And I'm sure my players will watch it. It's part of who you are. It's part of what you do. It's our game."
ODDS AND ENDS: Good news for Stanford: The previous three teams to defeat UConn in the semifinals have gone on to win the title. & Stanford had lost three straight semifinals. & The Huskies lost for only the second time in their past 21 NCAA Tournament games as a No. 1 seed. & UConn fell to 5-4 all-time in semifinals. & In its two previous finals, Stanford beat Auburn in 1990 and Western Kentucky in 1992.