BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A'dia Mathies has helped turn Kentucky into a contender during her career. The senior just couldn't get the Wildcats over the hump to their first Final Four.
She scored 14 points in Kentucky's 83-53 loss to Connecticut on Monday night in the Bridgeport regional final. It was the second straight season that the Wildcats lost to the Huskies with a national semifinal berth on the line.
"It's been a great turnaround," Mathies said. "I'm glad I can leave here and look back and know that Kentucky is a national powerhouse now."
The Wildcats have made the NCAA tournament in each of the past four seasons and reached the regional finals in three of those years falling short each time.
Mathies, along with fellow senior Brittany Henderson, finished as the winningest class in school history with 111 victories.
"It looks a lot different when she's walking out the door than when she was walking in the door," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I hate how we performed the way we did and sent her out this way. I hope the contribution she made and impact she made doesn't get lost in a real tough 40 minutes for us."
Kentucky led 23-22 with 9 minutes left in the first half before UConn turned up its defense and turned away the Wildcats, who missed 13 of 14 shots during UConn's 26-3 game-changing run.
While UConn was playing lockdown defense, Breanna Stewart was dominating on the offensive end. The 6-foot-4 star, who was the national high school player of the year last season, scored nine points and had a vicious two-handed block during that closing burst.
Kentucky couldn't get within 20 in the second half.
It's been an unusual season for UConn, which for the first time in 19 years didn't win either the Big East regular season or tournament title. Now the Huskies are two wins away from an eighth national championship.
This was the 19th time in the past 23 seasons that UConn had reached the regional final. They have made the Final Four 14 times overall, including the last six.