Notre Dame Holds off the Huskies 81-76
Some familiar foes faced off in the 2nd game Friday night of the Women’s Final Four at Amalie Arena. Notre Dame and UConn know each other well having met in the Finals before under legendary head coaches Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw. In the first quarter both teams played some sloppy transition defense which led to easy buckets on both ends of the court. Despite the defensive effort in the first quarter UConn clung to a 16-12 lead heading into the second.
From there, Notre Dame kept clawing away at the lead until they found themselves up 22-20 with about 5 minutes left in the opening half. For awhile in the second quarter the game looked more like a 3-point contest instead of a Final Four as both teams just began launching everything from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for the fans there were a lot of bricks being tossed up. Once the “3-point” contest ended UConn and Notre Dame must have traded about 6 buckets each with the Huskies having the last laugh grabbing a 30-29 lead on a last second shot before the half.
To begin the third, both teams really shot the ball well as the trading of shots continued. Notre Dame finally took a 4-point lead on a 3-pointer from Mariana Mabrey only to see Megan Walker nail a 3 of her own to pull UConn to within one. As the quarter wore down the seesawing of the lead continued. This continuous back and forth included one sequence with 4 consecutive 3-pointers to close out the quarter, giving UConn the lead 54-52.
Opening the fourth the 3-point barrage continued giving fans quite the show. As things started to settle down UConn jumped out to a 7-point lead with a little over 8 minutes to play. The lead stretched to nine as Notre Dame found themselves in their biggest hole of the night. The Fighting Irish responded with a 3 to cut the lead to six. Then in the blink of an eye the Irish found themselves up 2 only to have UConn tie things up at 68 all. With one minute to play the Irish were up three, 76-73 and that is as close as UConn would get. Notre Dame closed out the game 81-76, setting up a Championship game with the Baylor Lady Bears on Sunday.