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Notre Dame Basketball

WBB | #1 vs #2

December 2, 2018

Top-ranked Notre Dame and #2 UConn renew their rivalry Sunday afternoon at 4pm (eastern) in a nationally-televised contest on ESPN.

UConn brings a 6-0 record to Purcell Pavilion, while the Irish are perfect through seven games. ND has played the more challenging schedule to date — facing and beating four ranked opponents: #9 Oregon State, #14 Iowa, #16 DePaul, and #24 Drake.  UConn has only faced one ranked team - DePaul.

The combined record of ND’s seven opponents is 29 and 14, while UConn’s stand at 23 and 15.  ND has played three home games, three at a neutral site tournament (Vancouver) and one true road game at DePaul.  UConn has played three games in Connecticut — one on their home court in Storrs, one in Hartford, and one at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, CT.  The Huskies played three games in the Virgin Islands Thanksgiving tourney.  UConn has played no true road games.

The Huskies lost three standout players from last year’s team to graduation and the WNBA draft — Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, and Azura Stevens. In spite of these losses, the Huskies remain a team with immense talent at all five starting positions. All are skilled offensively and play aggressive defense.  

Azura Stevens’ decision to turn pro rather than play her final season of college eligibility removes a player from the UConn lineup who gave Notre Dame fits in both games last season. The Duke transfer scored 10 fourth quarter points (4-4 from the field, 2-2 from the line) to spark the Huskies’ regular-season win in Hartford.  She totaled 17 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. Overall, she made 7 of her 12 field goal attempts.

She also provided a boost in the national semi-final game. After the Irish jumped out to a ten point lead at the end of the first quarter, Stevens scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the second quarter helping the Huskies take a 7 point half-time lead.  For the game, she tallied 19 points (8 for 12 from the field) in 28 minutes.  She was just 1 for 4 in the 4th quarter and overtime.

Stevens’ decision to leave UConn after playing just one season left the Huskies with just one experienced — but supremely talented post — for this season, Napheesa Collier.  The 6’2” senior is currently second on the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game.  She converts 59.2% of her field goal attempts, shoots 66.7 from the line, grabs 9.8 rebounds per game, and has averaged 3.8 assists.  Collier can play both the high and low post and can guard the perimeter as well as the inside. She averages 12.7 shots in 29.7 minutes per game.

UConn’s leading scorer through six games is Katie Lou Samuelson.  The 6’3”  senior forward/wing is averaging 20 points per game.  She shoots 50% from the field overall and 45% from three. She’s an 85.7% free throw shooter.  Samuelson is also averaging 6.2 rebounds and 3 assists in 33.2 minutes of playing time.  She averages 14 shots per game.

The Huskies’ point guard is 5’5” junior, Crystal Dangerfield, who averages 13.2 points and 5.3 assists per game. She takes 9 shots per game, but hits 55.6% of her field goals including 48.3% of her threes. She’s a perfect 5-5 from the line.  She averages 32.3 minutes per game.

The remaining two starters were considered the #1 recruits in their respective years — 6’1” sophomore Megan Walker and 5’11”  freshman Christyn Williams.  Walker is averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.  Williams averages 10.8 points and 4 rebounds per game.  She’s converting 61% of her field goal attempts overall and 50% from three. 
The Huskies have crushed five of their first six opponents winning by 32 (Ohio State), 38 (Vanderbilt), 40 (Ole Miss), 46 (Purdue), and 36 (DePaul).  Only St. John’s challenged the Huskies — losing by 10 in a game that was tied 47-47 after three quarters. Samuelson, Dangerfield and Williams played all 40 minutes, Collier played 39 and Walker 30 against the Red Storm.

UConn has averaged 84.2 points per game and has outscored their opponents by 33.7 per game. As a team, they convert 53.8% of their field goal attempts and shoot 41.8% behind the arc.  They average 8.5 made threes per game.  They shoot 74.7% from the line — however, their five starters are a combined 78.8% from the charity stripe.

Against a tougher schedule to date, ND is averaging 91.1 points per game — 23.9 points better than their seven opponents.  The Irish make 49.6% of their field goal attempts and are shooting just 30.5% from three. They only average 3.6 made threes per game.  However, these numbers have improved since Marina Mabrey’s return for the last two games.  In the first five games, ND only averaged 2.2 made threes per game on just 23.9% shooting.  Over the last two, the Irish average 7 made threes and are converting 38.9% of their attempts).

Notre Dame is shooting 72.7% from the line — they attempt an average of 26.1 per game and make an average of 19. The Huskies are averaging 15.2 attempts per game and 11.3 makes.

The Huskies average 40 rebounds per game including 10 offensive — a 7.8 rebound advantage over their opponents — 19.8 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

The Irish are averaging 46.6 rebounds per game including 16.7 offensive boards.  ND is outrebounding its seven opponents by an average of 13.4 per contest. The Irish are also averaging 17.4 assists, 14.1 turnovers, 8.9 steals, and 4.7 blocks per game.

Both UConn and the Irish handled their common opponent - DePaul.  Playing in Hartford, the Huskies smothered DePaul’s outside shooters holding them to just 8 of 36 (22%) in the first half and just 5 for 27 (18.8%) from three.  UConn held Depaul without a made field goal for about ten minutes of game time from the mid-point of the first quarter into the second quarter, as they took a commanding 53 to 25 lead at the half before cruising to the 99-63 final.

Playing at home, DePaul shot much better in the first half against the Irish. The Blue Demons outscored the Irish 29 - 22 in the first quarter.  ND turned the game around with a 32 point second quarter to take a 54 to 47 lead at the break.  Notre Dame held DePaul to 30 second half points winning by a final score of 101-77.

Series Notes: UConn leads Notre Dame all time 36-12.  The Irish are a more competitive 8 wins against 11 losses from Skylar Diggins’ sophomore year.  

ND lost the first eleven games after they joined the Big East until winning 2 out 3 in the 2001 national championship season.  The Irish won 2 of the next 6 games, then lost 12 in a row from the final match-up in 2005 until the Irish beat the Huskies in the national semi-final game during Skylar Diggins’ sophomore season.  The Irish then won 6 of the next eight — losing in the Big East Championship game in Skylar’s junior year and losing in the national championship semi-final in her senior season.

After that loss, ND dropped six straight to the Huskies including four in the regular season (2 at home and 2 away) and two Final Four games before the break-through national semi-final win in March. 

In their eight Final Four appearances, the Irish have faced UConn in seven — winning four semi-final games (2001, 2011, 2012, 2018), while dropping two final (2014, 2015) and one semi-final (2013) to the Huskies.

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