HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut women's basketball team was feted Sunday with a victory parade and rally in downtown Hartford following its unprecedented fourth consecutive NCAA tournament championship.
Senior forwards Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart were among the star players who addressed a crowd of thousands of fans.
"We wouldn't be able to be as great as we are without all the fan support we have," said Tuck, thanking supporters for coming out on the unseasonably chilly but sunny afternoon.
"These past four years have been the best four years of our lives," Stewart added. "We came in with a goal and we did that. We'll always remember that and we'll always remember you guys, the greatest fans in the country."
Coach Geno Auriemma, who had been expected to speak at the event, didn't attend. Organizers said the 62-year-old coach wasn't feeling well Sunday.
Hartford police estimated about 20,000 fans attended the event.
Some Husky fans said they staked out a spot as early as 7 a.m. for the afternoon festivities.
The day began with a parade stepping off from the Connecticut State Capitol building at 1 p.m. The procession made its way to a rally in front of the XL Center, where the Huskies play some of their home games.
Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy's office said the event, which was organized by the city, state and local civic and business groups, was funded through private donations and sponsorships. No state or city money was used, the office said.
UConn defeated Syracuse 82-51 in the championship game Tuesday.