Coming into tonight’s game, No. 2 Notre Dame trailed for just 18 seconds all season. The Irish hadn’t lost at home in 35 games. Unbothered, the UConn women’s hoops team flipped the script, leading for all but 4:53 against the Fighting Irish in a 72-61 win.
UConn remains undefeated at 8-0 and pushes its winning streak to 83 games.
Notre Dame struck first with a quick basket, but the lead did not last long. UConn ripped off an 11-0 run and it looked like the game may get out of hand early. But Muffet McGraw regrouped her team with a timeout and the Irish came out with back-to-back buckets to cut into the lead.
UConn was strong the offensive glass, getting multiple chances on offense nearly every time down the court in the first quarter. Notre Dame had trouble defending the low post as Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier scored with ease in the paint.
The second quarter would be a different story, however, as Napheesa Collier sat with two fouls. The Irish took advantage, going on an 8-0 run to close the deficit to two points. The Huskies looked like they were starting to unravel until Katie Lou Samuelson steadied the ship by hitting back-to-back buckets.
The Huskies held off Notre Dame for much of the half until Mychal Johnson came into the game and immediately hit a three to put the Irish ahead for the first time since the opening bucket.
UConn was in foul trouble with Natalie Butler, Collier and Williams all having two fouls. Geno stuck with Williams but was forced to use a small lineup. The Huskies struggled to find the hoop, going over three minutes without scoring. Once again, Katie Lou Samuelson broke the drought with another pair of baskets to tie the game going into the half.
The third quarter opened with both teams trading 6-0 runs. The Irish managed to get within a point before the Huskies got hot in the final minute of the quarter, taking a 50-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame failed to make up ground in the final 10 minutes. Geno left in his heavy artillery down the stretch with Collier, Nurse, Samuelson, and Williams playing the entire quarter while Crystal Dangerfield ran the point until the final minute. The Huskies finished strong with a convincing 11-point win.
Gabby Williams’s athleticism and length was on display all night, as she finished with an incredible 19 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals. She was clearly the best player on the court and Notre Dame never found an answer for her.
Katie Lou Samuelson played the role of run-stopper throughout the night. Every time Notre Dame was close to taking control of the game or going on a big run, Samuelson hit a big shot or two to get the Huskies going.
UConn shot for 19-for-20 from the stripe, which made a difference considering Notre Dame only got to the line eight times all game, hitting just four.
This is clearly the biggest win of the season for the Huskies, on the road against the team everybody expected to be the best in the country. Before the season and in the weeks leading up to this game, most people around the game favored Notre Dame in this matchup because UConn was supposed to have taken a step back this year. Not only did the Huskies prove they aren’t taking that step back, they are the team to beat once again.
When these two teams faced off a year ago, Breanna Stewart’s utterly dominant Huskies beat the Irish by 10 at Gampel Pavilion. This year’s squad took down Notre Dame by 11 on the road, and its body of work to start the season has proven that it could be as special as any of its predecessors.