COLUMBUS, Ohio – Geno Auriemma does not really need another lesson about losing.

He does not do it often. Only twice in the last 148 games.

But now his team has made it to the semi-finals of the NCAA tournament for two consecutive years – a place many teams would like to see. But that's UConn and Auriemma has not been without a title for years since 2012.

"Sometimes you have to put up with it and fail if it's all up to you," he said after UConn's 91-89 loss in overtime on Friday. "It's a great learning tool, but I'm a pretty smart guy, I do not have to learn that two years in a row."

The loss brings him a hollow win: he was right about what he said all week It's getting harder and harder to win a title. The competition is getting better and the fight for the top is getting harder. UConn junior Katie Lou Samuelson, who had 16 points in the defeat, said it's something to expect as soon as you enter the door in Storrs.

"When you come here, you know that you have that goal back on yours, so you can not complain," she said.

Prior to the semifinals, she and her teammates talked about their memories of their loss in the 2017 Mississippi semifinals and using it as a motivation. According to Samuelson, the exercises were stronger this year. Now this feeling has to stay with them for another year.

"I mean, we'll use that as motivation," Samuelson said. "It's just a different kind of loss this year (than in 2017). I felt we had a better chance this year."

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After losing, Auriemma, who went to his first Final Four before his players were born, was unwilling to to search for what his crew had learned from all this. He's been doing that for a few decades. And this one – a second loss in extra time in the Final Four, when there were so many chances it went either way – really seemed to hurt.

"You know, when you do something and it looks so effortless, you get drugged and forget that it's difficult, it's very, very difficult," he said. "There are no bad teams, no bad players, no luck in a national championship, you have to play great."

"You know, one or two players really make the difference this season. I made that comment before, as your team comes to the Final Four, it's not your talent, and it's not your team that will beat the other team. Looking back, there are generally one or two players who make incredible games and dominate the game. And when you go in, you never know who they will be.

For Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse, there is no chance to use them as motivation at this level.The loss left the senior without titles in their last two years at UConn – again, a rarity only at UConn.

"That's the unfortunate thing of being a senior at university," said Auriemma. "Very, very few kids are having their senior season finale with a national championship, and it has happened to many children in Connecticut, but it was not Intends to be for these two. "

The Huskies were starved by a slow loss – shooting only 30 percent off the ground in the first quarter – and part of the late deciding sales, but they kept battling back and forth It seemed as if they had removed only one basket of the entire match until Notre Dame rose at five and stayed in extra time less than a minute.

While Samuelson had the be She hopes for the Huskies' last miracle with her shot at the buzzer, she does not remember what she was thinking as she whipped it against the basket.

It's not really important. She will use the result next year only as a motivation.

"I tried to get a good shot," she said. "And it did not go in."

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nina Mandell on Twitter @ninamandell .


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