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Notre Dame Basketball

UConn Cruises By Notre Dame 89-71

December 2, 2018

UConn broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter to roll past Notre Dame at a sold-out Purcell Pavilion, 89 to 71.  Similar to the in-season game last year, when the Huskies outscored the Irish in the final quarter by 17, UConn took advantage of Notre Dame’s defensive break-downs, scored timely baskets, and went 12 for 14 from the line to outscore the Irish by 12 over the final 10 minutes.

Winning coach Geno Auriemma was pleased that his team always had an answer:

“The game was played about what you would expect from two really good teams. It was pretty close the whole way.  Seems like every time we needed a bucket we got one, and every time they made a run, we got something going.”

Led by freshman guard, Christyn Williams, who scored 16 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter (7 for 8 from the field including 2 for 3 three-point shots in the first ten minutes), the Huskies took a five-point lead after one.  

Auriemma says they planned to take advantage of Williams’ strength driving to the basket:

“The game plan in the beginning of the game on rebounds and misses we were going to look up the floor and throw it to her.   I wanted her to attack the basket.   She adds a really big dimension to our team.  You have to match Notre Dame’s aggressiveness.  You have to attack their defense the way they attack yours, and Christyn does that.”

ND closed to within three at half-time at 44-41 but missed numerous opportunities to tighten the game more. The Irish shot the ball well at 54% but missed three free throws in the quarter — a pattern that persisted the entire game.

Notre Dame started the third quarter missing four of its first five shots, and UConn stretched the lead to eight in the first two minutes of the quarter.  ND clawed its way back to trail by just two four minutes later when Marina Mabrey made Notre Dame’s only three-point basket of the contest. But that was as close as the Irish would get the rest of the way.

Coach Muffet McGraw thought her team played poorly on defense but was really surprised by the lack of poise in the fourth quarter, including a technical foul called on Arike Ogunbowale.

“I thought a lot of the problems we’ve been having all year long resurfaced again.  This time the team we played was good enough to take advantage of it.  I thought our transition defense was poor. I thought our half-court defense was poor. Our offensive execution was too. And then we lost our poise, and that was unexpected.  I was really disappointed to see the veterans that we have not rise to the occasion.  We’re a better team than we showed.”

In the end, UConn won easily on a night when their three returning starters from last year — Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, shot a combined 16 for 44 from the field and 1 for 10 from three.  Samuelson, who is the team’s leading scorer, went 0 for 7 in the first half and failed to score.  She scored 15 in the second half with six assists.  Collier, who sat much of the fourth quarter with foul trouble, added 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. 

Jackie Young led the Irish scoring with 18 points.  Ogunbowale scored 10 first quarter points, but only managed seven the rest of the game to finish with 17.  She was 0-5 from the field in the fourth quarter.  She did lead the team in rebounding with 10 and in assists with 5. 

After shooting better than 50% from the field in the first half (17 for 33), ND only managed to make 10 of 34 shots after the break).  The Irish went 16 for 24 from the line.  

At the end of the game, McGraw knows there are lessons that can be learned from today’s outcome: 

“It’s going to allow us to look at things a little more objectively and to move on and move forward from here. We’ve got a long way to go.  I think we’re a really good team and will be a really good team.  Tonight we weren’t.  I’m disappointed for the fans.  They gave a great effort, and we didn’t.”

Postgame notes:
Katlyn Gilbert, who injured her shoulder in Thursday’s win over Iowa, will likely be out at least two weeks.  Still no word on when fellow freshman Jordan Nixon will return to play after suffering a concussion over two weeks ago.

Irish Sports Daily
Final Box Score 
Irish Sports Daily
Final Notre Dame Stats


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