The top-ranked UConn women's basketball team defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 72-61 on Wednesday night for the Huskies' 83rd consecutive win.
"I was really disappointed in everything, execution, the inability to get the ball to Bri".
And speaking of those Bruins, their NCAA record 88-game winning streak was snapped at Notre Dame on January 19, 1974 when the Irish were ranked No. 2 and UCLA No. 1. And now there's no confusion about who should be the No. 1 team in the country.
It wasn't a blowout by any means. UConn had a chance to take lead just before halftime but Williams missed in the lane. Geno Auriemma's team was always poised and immediately responded to any hint of an Irish spark.
They trailed for about two minutes in late in the second quarter, but played with the lead most of the game. That looks to be its toughest test before ACC play begins in January, although its final four nonconference games are all on the road against competitive opponents.
Third, Notre Dame was the preseason No. 1 (until dropping to No. 2 this Monday) and the program considered most likely to end the Huskies' national title string. Over the past four years, the Irish are 114-2 against everyone else, but 0-4 versus the Huskies, who have a five-game winning streak in the series (all double digits wins). That was followed by a layup from Katie Lou Samuelson and the Irish deficit widened.
Collier, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, came back and scored the first two baskets of the second half and had eight points in the third quarter. But another Samuelson layup, a steal and layup by Gabby Williams and two free throws by Collier turned a close game into a seven-point lead for UConn in a matter of seconds.
"There's no pressure on us because they've got the streak, they've got to keep that going ... they're No. 1 now".
High scorer Napheesa Collier of CT finds room to shoot against Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (left).
UConn holds a 34-11 edge all-time over the Fighting Irish, but the rivalry has been back-and-forth in recent years. McGraw had no answer for that.
"I was wondering about that myself", she said in a half sarcastic tone. "I can't wait to watch the film". I think they have balance - probably more balance than they've ever had.
UConn's aggressiveness at the offensive end paid dividends as it was able to get to the foul line. The Huskies' advantage was built down the stretch as Notre Dame fouled to stop the clock and extend the game. They can't meet more than twice this time around, but a rematch in Dallas in April would be something to look forward to from two teams that are very good now and have a lot of room to grow. UConn's speed, athleticism, and experience was on another level. Williams (19 points, 12 rebounds), Samuelson (18 points) and Kia Nurse (eight points, four assists) all played 40 minutes. If we learn from it, it's great.
"This game is going to be more about what we have right now. And that would've helped us if we had that connection on the passing today". Turner was sidelined that game because of a shoulder injury. Brianna Turner led the Fighting Irish with 16 points.
McGraw also cited poor shot selection - Notre Dame was 3-of-14 from three-point range - and young players being impatient and just wanting to score.
"It was tough. She's super-athletic and tall and hard to guard", Collier said.
McGraw said the one difference about this UConn team is it doesn't have a transcendent player such as Diana Taurasi (2000-04), Maya Moore (2007-11) or Stewart (2012-16). Let's play our game and (if we lose) 72-71 on a buzzer beater then it's a great game.
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