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Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Updated: April 7, 11:15 AM ET
Fans celebrate 'history in the making'

Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. -- A second NCAA basketball title brought a second night of rowdy celebration at the University of Connecticut.

Two hours after the women's basketball team won its third straight championship, fans overturned two cars and set one of them on fire Tuesday night at an apartment complex about a mile from campus. There were no reports of injuries.

It was at the same apartment complex Monday night, after the men's basketball team won its second title in five years, where revelers overturned two cars and set several bonfires. Police arrested 35 people on and off campus after the men's game.

UConn police Wednesday reported six arrests for charges ranging from breach of peace to criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. State police made three additional arrests, two for drunken driving and one for breach of peace.

"Overall, I believe, the students reacted and celebrated on a very high level, really a compliment to the national championship," Sgt. J. Paul Vance, the state police spokesman said.

Several thousand people who watched the women's game on large screen televisions in Gampel Pavilion spilled out onto the UConn campus. Fans set a small bonfire outside the arena, yelled, waved pompoms, jumped on a TV satellite truck and climbed trees.

"It's history in the making," said Leticia Flowers, a sociology major.

"It's domination just like Taurasi said," said Charmaine Smith, referring to UConn star Diana Taurasi, the tournament MVP.

The UConn women beat Tennessee 70-61 in New Orleans, a night after the men defeated Georgia Tech 82-73 for the title in San Antonio. No other university has won both titles in the same year.

Tuesday night's celebrations were more subdued than the ones after the men's championship game.

"It is a very well controlled celebration," UConn police Maj. Ron Blicher said early Wednesday, before fans overturned the cars.

The women's team was expected to arrive at Bradley International Airport at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and take center stage at a pep rally at Gampel Pavilion at 5:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, thousands of boisterous fans welcomed the men's basketball team home at the airport and a rally at Gampel, home of Huskies basketball.

Emeka Okafor, the Huskies' star center and the most outstanding player of the men's Final Four, was weary from the trip back to Storrs on Tuesday. He hadn't had much sleep, and he was still finding the accomplishment somewhat unbelievable.

"We were actually in the championship game and we actually won the dang thing," Okafor said. "We made a lot of people proud."

When Ben Gordon got on stage to address the Gampel crowd of 5,500, the arena erupted into chants of "One more year." Gordon, a junior guard, was expected to forgo his senior year for the pros.

"I just want to thank everyone in this building," Gordon said. "It's been a great three years here."

Men's coach Jim Calhoun, the architect of the Huskies' two national titles, was greeted with shouts of "Hall of Fame." He learned on Monday that he had fallen one vote short of being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.