Lubbock Christian hold the championship trophy after defeating Alaska Anchorage, 78-73, in the championship game at the women's NCAA Division II basketball tournament Monday, April 4, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy
April 06, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) In any other year, it would be virtually impossible for Geno Auriemma to watch former player Carla Berube coach in the Division III title game.

But with the Division I, II and III championships being played in Indianapolis - the first time that all three women's finals were contested in the same city - UConn's coach was able to see the game.

He hopes that this becomes an annual event.

''It really was a special moment for women's basketball,'' Auriemma said. ''I hope it was a moment that everyone took in and appreciated and wants to do again. I talked to some of the coaches and players on those teams and they said they never experienced anything like this. And you know what? They deserve to. Those kids play just as hard, put in as much time and effort as our kids.''

The NCAA added a nice touch, having the players from Division II champion Lubbock Christian and Division III winner Thomas More hold the flag during the Division I title game. A moment they won't forget anytime soon.

The organization will evaluate whether this was a one-time thing or something that they can do again. Men's basketball did it in Atlanta a few years back but hasn't revisited it.

''All that remains to be seen,'' said Anucha Browne, the NCAA's senior vice president for women's basketball. ''We have to go back and see if this works. There was a tremendous amount of mystique doing it the first time. I can tell you it felt right.''

One thing for sure is that they won't have all three titles decided in Dallas next year. There isn't enough time to get it done. The NCAA started planning for this one nearly two years ago.

''Getting the Division I and II treatment has been amazing,'' said forward Michaela North of Tufts, which lost in the Division III final. ''We've never done anything like this. No media, no video shoots or anything like that. So just the overall experience - getting this kind of treatment and making us feel important and police escorts. It's just been a lot of fun.''

Just over 6,400 fans turned out to watch the D-II and D-III games Monday. That was the most ever to see a Division III title game and the highest since 1995 for Division II.

''That crowd was unbelievable yesterday,'' said Auriemma, who watched the game with his UConn team from a luxury suite. ''I hope people in the NCAA take a look at this and make this an annual basketball weekend for all of basketball.''

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