INDIANAPOLIS -- As an eight-year-old living in North Syracuse, New York, Breanna Stewart took a ride downtown with her father in April, 2003, to watch the parade celebrating the Syracuse University men's basketball team's national championship.
And while Stewart loves a parade as much as anyone, the University of Connecticut senior standout does not want a repeat in her hometown later this month.
She's thinking about a four-peat for herself and the Huskies.
Unbeaten UConn goes for its unprecedented fourth straight national championship and 11th overall Tuesday night when it takes on Syracuse at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for around 8:30 p.m.
"I do have a lot of Syracuse gear," Stewart said with a smile on Monday. "I don't bring it to UConn and you don't see me wearing it on UConn's campus. I've been around the Syracuse program for a while. I've been to games. I went to the camps. I've been in the Carmelo (Anthony practice facility) Center. There are a lot of relationships there.
"It's funny, because I'm still a Syracuse fan. Anytime they're on, I watch them. And because I have the relationships with the players on their team that I have, yeah, I'm cheering for them."
Friendships, though, will go out the window for about two hours Tuesday night. A goal Stewart and her classmates set when they committed to UConn five years ago of wanting to win four national championships can be reached.
It will be the final collegiate game for Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and perhaps Morgan Tuck -- who will announce her decision on whether she'll enter the 2016 WNBA Draft or use her final year of eligibility after the contest. They have 150 wins and three titles. No one has more of either.
Now they can separate themselves.
"It's exciting to know that we're close to our goal and we have one more game to do it," Tuck said. "We've prepared the right way and we've done what we're supposed to do to be here. We have people on our team that have been in this position so it's not hard to use our experience and tell the younger players, 'Yes, it's a big game but you have to play it like it's another game and just leave everything out there.'
"There's always pressure and we put pressure on ourselves. We have high expectations. But that's good pressure. It makes us work harder and play better when you realize that you have to."
The Huskies (37-0) have won 74 straight and 121 of their last 122 games. They are a perfect 10-0 when playing for the national championship.
Coming off an impressive 80-51 semifinal win over Oregon State Sunday, they are also confident they can finish the job with Stewart predicting a victory.
"We've have been talking about this the entire year and throughout my entire career," Stewart said. "When this is the moment that we've prepared for, I'm not going to go and say that we're going to lose. Everyone knows that we want to win this game, that we want this national championship for a number of reasons. It is some people's first, some people's second, some people's third, and it will be our fourth. To end my college career with the other seniors, there is no other way I want that to happen.
"I believe we're going to win. I think if we execute our game plan and do what we're supposed to do, that we're going to be OK."
Syracuse knows for it to pull off the upset that it has to be concerned with Stewart's actions and not her words.
"It definitely can give us a competitive spirit," Syracuse guard Brianna Butler said. "But at the same time she has her right to say that. They've built so much through her times being here. And she's a great player. UConn's a great team and they have a dynasty there. But we just have to go into this game and fight it out and play our game."
And that game has served the Orange well through the postseason.
Syracuse (30-7) advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament final before losing to Notre Dame. The Orange were given the No. 4 seed in the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Regional and beat Army and Albany at the Carrier Dome to reach their first Sweet 16. And the run continued in Sioux Falls as they rallied to stun South Carolina and avenged an earlier loss to Tennessee to get here. They were equally impressive Sunday in downing Washington 80-59 to get to Tuesday night.
UConn dominated Syracuse in their last quarter-century in the Big East together and the Orange haven't defeated the Huskies since ex-coach Marianna Freeman's "We beat somebody" game of Jan. 2, 1996. But only four current Syracuse players -- Butler, Brittney Sykes, Cornelia Fondren, and Taylor Ford -- have played against UConn.
"It's a different cast of characters a different style of play," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They remind me a little bit of DePaul. They just create an environment in the game where if you let your emotions get away from you, it plays right into their hands."
The Orange will shoot a lot of 3-pointers and use full-court pressure to force turnovers and ignite their transition game.
And they are just not happy to be here.
"This is one of those games you have to play with everything you have and understand that this is the one," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "There is no practice on Wednesday. There's no let's get ready for the next game. This is it. And this is what we talk about every day. We talk about winning national championships. We talk about being in this game.
"I know a few people (Sunday) said, 'You guys didn't really celebrate.' It's not our goal just to win that game. Our goal is to win this game. And we understand who we're playing. We understand where we are. Obviously Geno is the best coach in the business and Bre is the best player in the business. What more exciting time than now to play the best."
Syracuse will go with what got it here. UConn, though, will have one change to its lineup. With freshman Katie Lou Samuelson out with a broken foot suffered Sunday, sophomore Gabby Williams will step into the starting lineup.
After Tuesday night, the seniors' time playing for the Huskies will be history. This is their last chance to make some.
"Knowing that no matter what this is the end of the road, the last game, makes it easier because every tournament game leading up to this was win or go home, win or go home, win or go home," Stewart said. "Now we're where we want to be. We're playing in the last game of the season. Now there's one thing left to do."