Final Four flashback: Auriemma coaches beyond buzzer

Rebecca Lobo led UConn to the 1995 national championship and an unbeaten season. (AP Photo/file)
Rebecca Lobo led UConn to the 1995 national championship and an unbeaten season. (AP Photo/file)
Published Apr. 3, 2015

With Tampa set to host the women's Final Four, we offer a week's worth of vignettes on past tournaments:

Rebecca Lobo won just one national title during her storied career at UConn, but the memories of that 35-0 senior season take her back 20 years with ease.

Back then, the games were played in the afternoon on CBS, so the Huskies had plenty of time to celebrate afterward. At some point later that evening, about half the team ended up in coach Geno Auriemma's hotel suite.

"He's like 'Hey, let's put the game on,' " Lobo said. "Of course it was on VHS tape back then, there was no DVD or digital media. So we put the VHS tape in and we're watching the game and laughing and still celebrating. One of my teammates had this banner, streamer, tied around her head. Everyone was kind of out of their minds. But then I remember like all of a sudden somebody made a mistake and he started rewinding it. And suddenly it was sort of like a film session where you go in and he's going to tell you how to improve on stuff. And finally one of the players was like 'Are you really doing this? Let's just watch and celebrate this.' "

For Lobo, the surreal celebration began in the waning seconds of the victory over Tennessee.

"I just remember there being a couple of seconds left, looking up at the clock and quickly doing the math in my head and realizing there's no way they can beat us," she said. "There's no scenario where we don't win this game. I just started running around the court, not premeditated in any way. It was just pure joy and excitement of being in the moment."

The 6-foot-4 center was part of the first national title team for the Huskies, a group that set the standard for a program that now boasts nine national championships.

"We just had a 20th reunion of my 1995 team and I think now that we've seen the tremendous amount of success that they've had there, I think it makes us feel like we were a part of something that's grown to be extraordinary," Lobo said. "If they had never won a national championship after our 1995 one, we would still be proud of what we had done. But it's become something bigger than that. It's really nice to feel like you were a part of what this whole thing has become and part of the legacy of UConn women's basketball."