It was a completely different atmosphere than the regular-season finale. Instead of triple overtime against a rival that has become much more than that in recent years, UConn dispensed with DePaul like it was a preseason warm-up instead of a Big East Tournament game.
Whatever the setting or the time of year, the results were unchanged: the Huskies rolled, 94-61 and are now in the conference semifinals.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this game is that it will be the last time these two teams meet as members of the Big East. The Catholic 7 -- which includes DePaul -- are off to make their own conference beginning this summer. UConn will remain behind in what will no longer be known as the Big East.
Still, DePaul coach Doug Bruno, who happens to be good friends with Geno Auriemma, would like to continue playing the Huskies, even though DePaul went 0-11 against UConn during their eight years in the conference.
"At this point, I just want to celebrate the pioneers of the game who put this league together, people like Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese [former commissioners of the league]," Bruno said via the Hartford Courant. "And UConn, on the women's side, needs to be celebrated just like they do. They set the gold standard that has raised the rest of us who have played in [the Big East].
"And now as we move forward [into the basketball-only Big East] we'll try to take what we've learned in our eight years here. Somebody in the group that is leaving [among the Catholic 7] needs to step up now and become what UConn and Notre Dame have become. … But it's all about having players say yes to your program. There's no magic to it. You need players."
As for the game, Auriemma got strong efforts from freshman Breanna Stewart (21 points), as well as the two standout juniors who fouled out against Notre Dame last week: Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley (both had 16 points). The most noteworthy change, perhaps, was Auriemma's decision to start Moriah Jefferson at point guard.
"At some point, she is going to have to play, and she is going to have to play well," Auriemma said. "And it's been getting more difficult to get her into situations that are comfortable for her. If you put her in off the bench when we are winning, that's easy. If you bring her in off the bench and we are struggling, that's difficult for a freshman and that's what happened at Notre Dame.
"The best way to make sure is to make sure she is in the game when it means something. I wanted to start her and see what happened."
What happened was Jefferson scored 12 points in 23 minutes and added three rebounds and three assists. And if the last Notre Dame game was any indication, the Huskies are going to need inspired point guard play to compete against the conferences' best team.