Buzzer beat­ers, na­tional ti­tles and thrillers

Elite pro­grams will try to add to legacy Sun­day in South Bend

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Uconn-notre Dame Basketball - By Kelli Stacy [email protected]

UConn and Notre Dame have a long his­tory — a ri­valry that blos­somed as UConn and Ten­nessee stopped play­ing each other on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The Huskies have got­ten the best of the Fight­ing Ir­ish and lead the se­ries, but UConn hasn’t al­ways been the more dom­i­nant team in the ri­valry. Meet­ings be­tween two of the best women’s col­lege bas­ket­ball pro­grams in the coun­try have pro­duced buzzer beat­ers, triple over­time and mul­ti­ple na­tional ti­tles.

Here’s a look at some of the most sig­nif­i­cant years and games of the ri­valry, which will con­tinue when the two meet on Sun­day in South Bend, Ind.:

2000-01: A Sue Bird buzzer beater and a Notre Dame na­tional ti­tle

This was a year of ups and downs for UConn in the ri­valry. It started with a 92-76 loss in the reg­u­lar season and led to the Huskies and Fight­ing Ir­ish meet­ing up in the Big East cham­pi­onship game.

Tied at 76 with just 40 sec­onds left in the game, UConn leg­end Sue Bird hus­tled down the court be­fore pulling up and knock­ing down a jumper at the buzzer to give the Huskies the win, 78-76.

UConn and Notre Dame would meet up again, this time in the Fi­nal Four. The Fight­ing Ir­ish got their re­venge, beat­ing UConn 9075 and go­ing on to win the

na­tional cham­pi­onship.

2005: The Huskies’ dom­i­nance be­gins

Af­ter los­ing one of three games against Notre Dame in 2004 and go­ing on to win the na­tional ti­tle, UConn started its long win­ning streak in the ri­valry in 2005. UConn would win ev­ery game — eight to­tal — be­tween 2005 and the be­gin­ning of the 2010 season.

2010: Notre Dame and the years of Sky­lar Dig­gins

UConn was on a hot streak for five straight sea­sons, but the Fight­ing Ir­ish started to make the ri­valry com­pet­i­tive again in 2010.

UConn won the first three games against Notre Dame that season, in­clud­ing a three-point win in South Bend. Kelly Faris scored 20 points and made the fi­nal shot to se­cure the Huskies’ 79-76 win that night, while Maya Moore put up 31 points.

In March, the Fight­ing Ir­ish were ready for UConn. Be­hind Sky­lar Dig­gins, Notre Dame up­set the Huskies 72-63 in the Fi­nal Four and went on to the na­tional ti­tle game. Dig­gins scored 28 points, and Moore fin­ished her fi­nal game in a Huskies uni­form with 36 points.

2012: UConn snaps los­ing streak

Notre Dame’s win in 2010 led to a string of losses for UConn in the ri­valry. The Huskies didn’t beat Notre Dame in a sin­gle game in 2011, but they pushed the Fight­ing Ir­ish into over­time twice. The start of the 2012 season was much the same.

It started with a one-point loss in Jan­uary. The Huskies were lead­ing at the half, but Dig­gins willed Notre Dame to a win, scor­ing 19 points and draw­ing a late foul that gave the Fight­ing Ir­ish the 73-72 win.

The next time the two teams met in 2012, the game went to triple over­time in South Bend. UConn had a six-point lead in over­time and a five-point lead in dou­ble over­time, and still gave up the win. Notre Dame forced 35 turnovers. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said his team couldn’t han­dle pres­sure, and Dig­gins walked out of the arena for the fi­nal time af­ter scor­ing 29 points.

They met a third time, this time in the XL Cen­ter, and Notre Dame walked away with yet an­other win — 61-59 — and the Big East cham­pi­onship.

Af­ter three losses — seven in the past three sea­sons — UConn found a way to beat Notre Dame when it counted most. They met in the Fi­nal Four, and then­fresh­man Bre­anna Ste­wart gave the world a glimpse of what she would be­come. She scored 29 points, pulling the Huskies out to a big half­time lead that would even­tu­ally land them in the na­tional ti­tle game, which they won. The los­ing streak was snapped.

2013: The Huskies beat Notre Dame for the ti­tle, be­gin sec­ond reign in se­ries

With the los­ing streak fi­nally snapped, UConn be­gan its sec­ond dom­i­nant run in the se­ries. The Huskies met Notre Dame just once in 2013, in the big­gest game of the year.

Be­hind Ste­wart, who would be­come to UConn what Dig­gins was to Notre Dame in the ri­valry, the Huskies won their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive na­tional ti­tle. Ste­wart scored 21 points to help UConn to a 79-58 win.

2018: An Arike Ogun­bowale buzzer beater

The Huskies’ dom­i­nance in the ri­valry lasted from 2013 un­til their fi­nal game of 2018, when they were crushed with an over­time buzzer beater in the Fi­nal Four for the sec­ond year in a row. This time, it just hap­pened to be at the hands of Notre Dame.

Af­ter beat­ing Notre Dame 80-71 in the reg­u­lar season, the teams met up again in the na­tional semi­fi­nals. It was a com­pet­i­tive game, with both teams go­ing back and forth. In over­time, then­sopho­more Crys­tal Danger­field hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 89 af­ter Notre Dame’s Arike Ogun­bowale missed two free throws. With a sec­ond left, Ogun­bowale stepped back and hit the win­ning shot as time ex­pired, end­ing UConn’s season. Notre Dame would go on to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

CLOE POISSON/HARTFORD COURANT

UConn’s Katie Lou Sa­muel­son (33) chases a loose ball against Notre Dame’s Ma­rina Mabrey (3) and Kathryn West­beld. Notre Dame won 91-89 in over­time to end the Huskies’ season in the na­tional semi­fi­nals.

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