NCAA champion UConn Huskies return home - CBS 5 - KPHO

NCAA champion UConn Huskies return home

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The UConn women's team took a victory lap around Storrs campus The UConn women's team took a victory lap around Storrs campus

The UConn women's basketball team has returned home to Connecticut and celebrated with a victory lap.

Students and fans alike were excited to welcome home the 2014 women's NCAA basketball champion UConn Huskies on Wednesday afternoon.

The Huskies defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 79-58 Tuesday night in Nashville, TN. The UConn women's basketball team earned its ninth championship and joined the men's team for the second time since 2004.

Their plane arrived to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks at 3 p.m. There was no public event at the airport, but that didn't stop fans from lining up outside the airport to catch a glimpse.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman greeted the players as they got off the plane.

The team quickly boarded and headed straight to the UConn campus in Storrs.

They boarded an open-air, double-decker bus along with the UConn pep band and cheerleaders and took a victory lap around campus.

The lap started at the corner of Route 195 and North Eagleville Road at the Storrs Congregational Church and make its way through campus ending at the Fairfield Way Plaza.

Head coach Geno Auriemma addressed the crowd first. 

"When they won that game on Saturday, I think all of us that were watching the game from Nashville, we knew that something was going on. That was bigger than all of us and we won Sunday. I was really nervous, but when our guys won Monday night it almost made it feel like it was destiny," said Auriemma.

Auriemma said the two basketball teams "were supposed to do this."

"Winning is great, but when you win by yourself, it's not as meaningful. So we shared it among ourselves because it is the kind of team we have, the kind of family atmosphere we have," Auriemma said.

Auriemma also made a push for people to come to UConn.

"Today, there is absolutely no question and no doubt that if you come to school here, you are a champion and you're going to live with champions," Auriemma said.

UConn seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley addressed the crowd. Both players became emotional during their speeches and they thanked the fans, teammates and other the teams on campus.

Hartley took the time to thank Auriemma for what he did for her and her teammates.

"I love you so much," Hartley said. "I wouldn't be the person I am today without you."

The UConn football team in full uniform attended the rally. UConn director of athletics Warde J. Manuel called UConn a "special place" and added that the field hockey team is also national champions.

T-shirts and other paraphernalia continued to fly off of the shelves at the UConn co-op.

"Right now I'm picking up a couple of women's shirts," said Kyle Staulters, a UConn senior. "My mom is a big UConn women's basketball fan. I'm waiting for the hats."

Many students told Eyewitness News they wanted something to remember the school's two national titles in less than 24 hours.

"I bought one yesterday," said Jordan Mann. "I'll probably come back for some more today."

Mann and her classmates said it's been a great ride in their senior year.

"For my class, who saw the men win freshman year, got to see the women win last year and to end it with two championships back-to-back has just been incredible," she said.

"I came here hoping that I would get to experience watching one championship, men's or women's, just get the experience," said Danielle Deschene, a freshman. "I've been watching in my house ever since I was growing up and now it's freshman year and we've got two and it's only us who's ever done it. It's our second time and it's amazing."

Fans could stay up-to-date on the team's progress from Bradley International Airport to campus by following them on Twitter at @UConnWBB. 

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