Irish seek 2nd straight outright title vs UConn
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Beating Connecticut is no longer a rarity for Notre Dame. The Irish are getting to be old hands at this.
"We don't have to say we think we can win. We know we can because we've done it," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish have beaten the third-ranked Huskies in five of their past six meetings, turning what had been a one-sided series into a legitimate rivalry — Notre Dame defeated the Huskies in the Final Four the past two seasons.
Their game Monday night will decide whether the Fighting Irish (27-1, 15-0) win the Big East title outright for a second straight season or share the title with the Huskies (27-2, 14-1), who would claim the top seed in the league tournament on a tiebreaker.
"We don't want to share it," Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride said.
The finish is a repeat of last season, when the two teams met in Hartford to decide the league title. The Irish won that game 72-59 to claim their first outright league title, but lost eight days later 63-54 when the Huskies won their fifth-straight league tournament championship. Three weeks later, the Irish beat the Huskies 83-75 in the NCAA semifinals. They Irish beat the Huskies again earlier this season, winning 73-72 in Storrs, Conn., to open the Big East season.
The Huskies are 11-0 on the road this season. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said his team heads into the game against Notre Dame and the Big East tournament feeling good about how it's playing. The Huskies routed South Florida 85-51 on Saturday behind 32 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and 25 from Stefanie Dolson.
"Our whole focus was on building some momentum, not just for Monday night, but for next weekend and for beyond," he said.
The game will be the final home game for Irish guard Skylar Diggins, who has been a key factor in Notre Dame's dominance over the Huskies the past two seasons. But McGraw said Diggins' biggest contribution is that she makes the players around her better.
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
COLLEGE BASKETBALL VIDEOS
- 31040Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 15616Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 10323Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 9726Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 9655Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 8284Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister
- 8255Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena