If there’s one team you can bet will give the No. 1 ranked UConn women’s basketball team a run for its money, it’s always Notre Dame. And Saturday’s clash between the two was no different, as the undefeated Huskies faced off against the also undefeated and No. 3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a sold out Gampel Pavilion at the Jimmy V Women’s Classic.
UConn managed to capture its third win over a Top 25 team this season by knocking Notre Dame off, 91-81.
Notre Dame came into the game with a roster that lacked key veteran post players Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer. Turner is dealing with a shoulder injury and missed her fourth consecutive game. While Reimer cleared medical waivers, Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw opted to not bring her on the trip for fear of aggravating an Achilles’ heel injury.
UConn started off with an early run in the first quarter by taking advantage of the lack of defense in the post. Within the first four minutes, UConn led 10-2, forcing McGraw to call a timeout. The theme of UConn’s lead would ring true for 38.5 minutes of the game. In all, the Huskies’ allowed Notre Dame the lead for just 34 seconds.
By the end of the first quarter, the Huskies were leading 27-18; however, Notre Dame stepped up its pace in the second quarter and managed to narrow UConn’s lead to 45-43.
UConn Senior forward Breanna Stewart caught fire for the Huskies late in the first half, though, as she posted her 28th career and third double-double of the season, with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Also on fire for the Huskies’ offense on Saturday was redshirt junior forward Morgan Tuck. Tuck added 21 points on the board, with most of them coming in the second half.
Despite the Huskies’ powerful scoring tactics, the real offensive story of the game comes from the Notre Dame’s Mabrey sisters.
Freshman guard Marina Mabrey and senior forward Michaela Mabrey had a combined 27 points at the half. The younger Mabrey came off the bench and led the team with 23 points for the game. Following halftime, Notre Dame junior Lindsay Allen posted nine of the first 11 points. The Huskies managed to pull away and take back the lead with 72-56 by the end of the third quarter, though.
During the final quarter, Notre Dame attempted to rally back from a 72-56 deficit, but the closest the Fighting Irish were able to come was within nine.
Senior guard Moriah Jefferson primarily ran the Huskies’ defense. Early on, Jefferson was partially responsible for the 10-2 run to start the game. For the rest of the game, she tallied three steals and three defensive rebounds.
Under head coach Geno Auriemma, the UConn Huskies have won three national titles in a row, and their last two championships have been won against Notre Dame. The Huskies have now won a consecutive 43 games.
As far as the rivalry goes, UConn improves to 34-11 in all time matchups against Notre Dame.
UConn improves to 6-0 on the season and will travel to New York to play Colgate Dec. 9. Notre Dame falls to 7-1 and moves on to host DePaul Dec. 9.