The biggest game of this women's basketball season lived up to the hype. In the end, the UConn Huskies proved once again why they are the top dogs.
The Huskies held Notre Dame scoreless for five minutes between the 3rd and 4th quarters, as UConn (6-0) defeated the Irish 91-81 in front of a sold-out Gampel Pavilion.
It was the senior class that kept the Huskies on top in this game. Breanna Stewart led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Stewart had 15 points in the first half including a near-dunk putback that should make the SportsCenter Top Ten.
As is her custom, senior guard Moriah Jefferson did a little bit of everything, scoring 14 points while dishing six assists and grabbing four rebounds. She also had three steals. Junior forward Morgan Tuck played a big role as well, scoring 21 hard-earned points and getting seven rebounds.
Notre Dame (7-1) freshman Marina Mabrey was lights out during the first half, scoring 21 points off the bench to keep the Irish close at the half, with the score at 45-43 at the break. She would finish with 23 points in the game. UConn freshman Katie Lou Samuelson hit 3-of-6 three-point attempts and finished with 13 points.
Just like DePaul did against UConn on Wednesday night, Notre Dame started hot from behind the three-point arc (7-10) and it kept them in the game. They finished 13-for-20 (65%) from deep. But UConn dominated them in the paint (+18) and at the free-throw line, where the Huskies hit 19 out of 24 attempts. The UConn forwards were too much for an overmatched Notre Dame team without its starting frontcourt.
No one gave Notre Dame a chance in this matchup given that two of its top players were out with injuries, but the Irish were fearless and their guard play was phenomenal. This will be a good matchup if it can happen again in the NCAA Tournament with Notre Dame at full strength.
The Huskies are in action next at Colgate on Wednesday night in what will be a homecoming game for Stewart, who is from North Syracuse, New York. It will be UConn's final game in the Jimmy V Classic. The game will be televised at 7 p.m. on SNY/ESPN3.