Posted March 03, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Beating Connecticut is no longer a rarity for Notre Dame. The Irish are getting to be old hands at this.
''We don't have to say we think we can win. We know we can because we've done it,'' Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish have beaten the third-ranked Huskies in five of their past six meetings, turning what had been a one-sided series into a legitimate rivalry - Notre Dame defeated the Huskies in the Final Four the past two seasons.
Their game Monday night will decide whether the Fighting Irish (27-1, 15-0) win the Big East title outright for a second straight season or share the title with the Huskies (27-2, 14-1), who would claim the top seed in the league tournament on a tiebreaker.
''We don't want to share it,'' Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride said.
The finish is a repeat of last season, when the two teams met in Hartford to decide the league title. The Irish won that game 72-59 to claim their first outright league title, but lost eight days later 63-54 when the Huskies won their fifth-straight league tournament championship. Three weeks later, the Irish beat the Huskies 83-75 in the NCAA semifinals. They Irish beat the Huskies again earlier this season, winning 73-72 in Storrs, Conn., to open the Big East season.
The Huskies are 11-0 on the road this season. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said his team heads into the game against Notre Dame and the Big East tournament feeling good about how it's playing. The Huskies routed South Florida 85-51 on Saturday behind 32 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and 25 from Stefanie Dolson.
''Our whole focus was on building some momentum, not just for Monday night, but for next weekend and for beyond,'' he said.
The game will be the final home game for Irish guard Skylar Diggins, who has been a key factor in Notre Dame's dominance over the Huskies the past two seasons. But McGraw said Diggins' biggest contribution is that she makes the players around her better.
''She's molded them and led them,'' McGraw said. ''She's done things in all areas: offense, defense, passing, leading. There's not a single area she hasn't excelled in,'' McGraw said.
The Irish tried to remove some of the pressure from Diggins' final home game by holding senior night Tuesday against Syracuse, a game where the Irish fell behind by 15 before winning. Diggins said playing her final home game in her hometown will be special.
''It's going to be electric. I think it's a treat anytime I get to play in front of my friends and my family. I feel like a kid every time I put on that jersey, because I remember sitting in those stands and watching the team play when I was young,'' said Diggins, who scored 28 in a 92-57 win over Providence on Saturday.
With a win, the Irish would tie the school record with a 23rd straight victory. It also would be the second time the Irish beat the Huskies three straight. Tennessee is the only other team to accomplish the feat in the past eight seasons.
Connecticut guard Kelly Faris believes the game will come down to a battle of wills.
''We have good players, they have good players,'' she said. ''We have Xs and Os, they have Xs and Os. It's not going to necessarily come down to that. It's going to come down to the hustle plays and we go through that every year. We say that every time, and in the end it does.''
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed from Tampa, Fla., and Pat Eaton-Robb from Providence, R.I.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Skylar Diggins scored 29 points and sparked a decisive run in the third overtime as No. 2 Notre Dame beat third-ranked Connecticut 96-87 Monday night to win Big East regular-season title outright for the second straight year.
The Fighting Irish (28-1, 16-0) went undefeated in the conference for the first time since joining in 1995-96 and became the first team to win six of seven...
Notre Dame enters the biggest game of the regular season with its two best players playing their best basketball.
Skylar Diggins scored 28 points and Kayla McBride added 24 as the second-ranked Irish clinched a share of their second straight Big East regular-season title with a 92-57 rout of Providence on Saturday.
Natalie Achonwa chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds for the...
Second-ranked Notre Dame just wouldn't give up against No. 3 Connecticut.
Not when the Fighting Irish fell behind by six points in the first overtime, missing their first six shots from the field before Kayla McBride hit Notre Dame's only 3-pointer of the game in the closing seconds to tie the score. Not when McBride, who scored a career-high 26 points, fouled out moments...
Skylar Diggins found another way to beat Connecticut -- maybe the toughest way yet.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish trailed by six in the first overtime Monday night, then five in the second overtime before finally beating the third-ranked Huskies 96-87 in three overtimes Monday night to win Big East regular-season title outright for the second straight year.
The return of the "Notre Dame Recruiting Blog" has updates on a number of prospects holding offers set to visit campus in the coming weeks.
Former Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o had a rough going at the NFL combine. Dealing with numerous questions about his hoax girlfriend, Manti knew his time there would be stressful.
Not many expected the star linebacker to perform the way he did on the field though. Looking slow and out of shape, Manti posted a 4.82 40 yard dash. Considered slow for a NFL linebacker...
The UConn Huskies women's basketball team versus Notre Dame Fighting Irish with the Big East Regular Season Championship on the line. Only one team could win it outright.
And they did. Unfortunately for us UConn fans, it was the Irish who prevailed 96-87 in triple OT in front of a sold-out crowd and nationally televised audience on ESPN2 at the Joyce Center in South Bend...
Marquette has just one message for the Fighting Irish following their 72-64 win: Notre Don't.
Can you feel the hate? If you are a true fan of the Fighting Irish, there is no doubt that you do. However, none of that hate is remotely close to that of the hate felt by Notre Dame quarterbacks. Right or wrong, Irish quarterbacks are the subject of jokes, praise, and disdain more so, it would seem, than any other player in college football.
They are villains.
Manti Te'o's 40-yard dash time may need some work but the Notre Dame linebacker showed he still has some moves.
Te'o ran a dismal 4.82 at last week's NFL Scouting Combine, but it didn't take long for half-a-dozen 10's to put a smile back on his face.
The NFL prospect was in Atlantic City Friday night to accept the Maxwell Football's Club's Collegiate...
Notre Dame played poorly throughout, though not without heart in wire-to-wire defeat at Marquette.
Brian Kelly's fourth spring practice at Notre Dame is less than three weeks away and Irisheyes.com will have a preview per day examining the 2013 spring session's top story lines. First in our series, a look at a wide open battle in the backfield.
#21 Notre Dame enters today's contest as a six-point underdog at #22 Marquette at the Bradley Center. An upset win will be earned only if the Irish continue in their recent role of bully, in this, the most hostile of home arenas.
Six games, one week, plenty of possibilities. Notre Dame can earn a double bye in the conference tournament if just two scenarios involving three teams and six games fall into place. The least likely of the pending pair to come to fruition is completely within their control.