UConn and Notre Dame played identically; UConn lost
After a quick look at the stat sheet from tonight's game between Notre Dame and UConn, it appears as thought the same team played itself.
Notre Dame had 73 points; UConn had 72 points. Notre Dame had 45 rebounds; UConn had 44 rebounds. Notre Dame shot just under 38 percent from the field; UConn shot just over 39 percent.
The only real statistic that jumps out from tonight's game is the disparity in three point field goal percentage. Notre Dame made 6-12 while UConn made just 5-23.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the game that the two teams were pretty much mirror images of one another. He said that in tight contests like this one that it's the team that executes that comes out on top. In games this close, Auriemma said that it all boils down to who steps up when it counts.
"It's a play here and a play there that ends up determining the game, "Auriemma said. "When you play against a real good team, it's one or two plays that decide the game."
The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, were pleased with the way they were able to execute down the stretch and make plays when they had to.
Notre Dame senior guard, Skylar Diggins finished the game with 19 points and thought that her teammates looked calm and composed when it mattered.
"Everybody was moving with a purpose," Diggins said.
Both Auriemma and the entire UConn locker room were quick to admit that Notre Dame was tougher and more composed when it mattered. The Huskies admitted that the Fighting Irish were simply a tougher team mentally and as a result, UConn lost and Notre Dame won.
The rivalry continues
Five times in the past calendar year, these two teams have faced one another. The Fighting Irish have won four out of those five, including the Final Four matchup in Denver back in April.
This time, though, it was played at the Huskies' home gym, their practice gym, the gym on the campus of UConn and it was packed to capacity. If there were ever a game the Huskies had an advantage, it were this one. But the Fighting Irish went and snatched it away from the Huskies.
Diggins was thrilled to play in such an atmosphere and said that she loves playing in tough situations like this one.
"This is what it's all about," she said.
It would not be a stretch to say that to a certain degree, Notre Dame has got UConn figured out.
Implications for No. 1
After the game, the question was raised as to who should be ranked No. 1 in the nation after the UConn loss to Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish were coy about it and neither the players nor the coach wanted any part in the discussion.
Coach McGraw isn't at all concerned about the No. 1 ranking, at least not in January.
"It's too early to worry about that," McGraw said. "I'm not worried about No. 1
Diggins shares a similar feeling to her coach.
When asked about the rankings, Diggins told the media that it's up to them to decide those sorts of things.
One foot in front of the other
At the end of the first half, UConn guard Bria Hartley made a basket with 22 seconds left. The shot was originally ruled a three-pointer and it put UConn within one point of Notre Dame, going into the half 37-36. After the play was reviewed, however, the referees concluded that Hartley's foot was on the line and the three-pointer was called a two-pointer.
Then in the second half, with just 4:19 remaining in the game and UConn winning 67-65, Notre Dame's Michaela Mabrey hit a basket that was ruled a three-pointer and it put the Fighting Irish up one point over the Huskies.
Many in the building thought that Mabrey's foot was on the line, including Auriemma. After the game when asked why the officials didn't review it like they did Hartley's shot, Auriemma said that he had no idea why it was never reviewed.
But he did say that he was equally frustrated that Mabrey was left wide open like that in a two-point game.
In a game that was decided by just one point, those two points proved to be crucial.
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