ESPN’s coverage of the women’s basketball national title game tonight (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.) will feature an essay ESPN analyst Beth Mowins and play-by-play veteran Mike Tirico penned together. They share their memories and observations of the Syracuse basketball legacy.
Front Row caught up with Mowins, who will call the game between top-seeded UConn and No. 4 seed Syracuse tonight from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
How did the idea come about to write this essay with Mike Tirico?
The essay idea came from senior coordinating producer Tina Thornton, who reached out to Mike and I. She wanted thoughts from people who lived Syracuse basketball over the years. I grew up there and it’s Mike’s alma mater, so we were thrilled to share our emotions, and what it has meant to Central New York to have both the men and women at the Final Four.
What is your fondest memory of Syracuse basketball?
Spending nights in Manley Field House and the Carrier Dome with friends and family watching the teams play when I was a kid. They were not just games, they were events and everybody in town wanted to be there. Certainly being in the Dome for Pearl Washington’s half-court buzzer beater in the early ’80’s is a highlight.
Another would be in my early days as a sportscaster when, in 1996, I called the Syracuse women’s upset over UConn. It is the last time Syracuse won in the rivalry with UConn winning the last 23 meetings.
History will be made tonight whether UConn or Syracuse wins. What are your thoughts on calling the game for ESPN?
What a thrill to call this National Championship with a hometown team and a hometown kid. I grew up playing pickup games on the Syracuse campus and [UConn’s] Breanna Stewart is from my high school in North Syracuse, so it truly is a small world.