Notre Dame Women’s Basketball: UConn stomps Irish in South Bend

Ruben Hill
December 6, 2018

The day before the game, she had talked about what most concerned her on that end of the court. I was disappointed for the fans.

UConn did a good job of putting pressure on the Irish and forcing them into bad shots, but it was the rebounding by the Huskies that took away those second chance opportunities for Notre Dame. Jessica Shepard scored 13, Marina Mabrey 11 and Brianna Turner 10 for Notre Dame (7-1).

Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempts a shot defended by Napheesa Collier #24 of the Connecticut Huskies during the first half in the semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Women's Final Four at Nationwide Arena on March 30, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Arike Ogunbowale had 17 points and 10 rebounds, but just five points after halftime.

Notre Dame went on to win its second national title in program history when Ogunbowale connected on a three-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining to lift the Irish over Mississippi State 61-58.

"They were really open, I thought". I thought our defense was poor. "They got a lot of wide-open shots, wide-open looks that they were able to make", McGraw said. "I thought we had an advantage inside, and we weren't able to have the discipline to execute". The Hawkeyes' star made her final two shots against West Virginia, all eight against Florida State and then hit her first six against Notre Dame before finally missing one against the top-ranked Irish.

Each time Notre Dame and UConn meet on the hardwood, its expected that both teams will field some of the best talent in the entire country. The Zags held a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before the Cardinal pulled to within three.

Jackie Young, who scored 32 against the Huskies last March, led the Irish with 18 points. Notre Dame came into the game favored, but Geno Auriemma and the Huskies would have the last laugh, winning 89-71. Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the Huskies had extended their lead to nine points. "Our transition defense is not as good as it could be; that's mostly effort". She then hit a pair of technical free throws for a 79-66 lead after Ogunbowale and Auriemma exchanged words and the Irish player was hit with a technical with 4:25 to play.

In the Vancouver tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, Notre Dame had some challenging moments against Gonzaga, Drake and Oregon State. As the Huskies' lead grew, Notre Dame's play grew increasingly sloppy, going 4-14 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc.

"We lost our poise".

"It would have been nice to have one of them today", McGraw said. I don't think we're a team of superstars.

"I didn't even know I did that", Williams said. "As seniors and leaders on this team, we can't let that happen". "I have to keep my composure in a time like that". CT scored 17 points from the line on the day. The Irish were only able to score five more points after Ogunbowale's technical. The senior guard was also called for an unsportsmanlike foul with 1:43 remaining. "She's fearless. I was upset we didn't give it to her more in the second quarter (when Williams had zero points). Poll comes out and we're No. 1 that doesn't change what we do at practice".

McGraw said, despite her disappointment in the loss and her team's level of play, she's going to use the game as a launching pad moving into conference play and she hopes her team can take what it learns from the game and move forward.

"It's not the first time we've faced adversity". I think nationally it's one of the best rivalries in women's basketball, so I think people will be tuning in to see what happens here. "We've been in the situation where we've gotten ourselves down and we've come back", McGraw said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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