UConn Defeats Notre Dame on the Road

The ladies for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have held the top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll ever since the week 2 rankings were released.  While they were still undefeated, Connecticut (UConn) overtook the top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 when the week 5 rankings were released.  However, Notre Dame still held the top spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Which team was better was certainly up for debate before tonight.  Both teams were undefeated and looked as strong as ever in the early part of the season.  The big difference was that UConn had already defeated four top 25 opponents this season, compared to Notre Dame only defeating one.

Tonight, the UConn ladies shut the door on any lingering questions about which team is stronger in the early part of this season.  The two teams faced off with Notre Dame playing host school in Indiana.

UConn defeated Notre Dame with a score of 72 to 61.  That makes it 83 consecutive wins for the Huskies with their last loss coming at the hands of a number 6 ranked Stanford in the early part of the 2014-2015 season.  Since that loss, they’ve gone on to show why they are a modern day dynasty, capturing National Championship games over Notre Dame and Syracuse the past two years.

As for tonight’s game, UConn was able to rely on a balanced attack from Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams.  The trio combined for 57 total points during the game with Williams and Samuelson each logging 40 minutes.

Napheesa Collier posted a line of 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal in 29 minutes.  Katie Lou Samuelson added 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer and a steal.  Gabby Williams contributed 19 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, five steals and two blocks.

In the second quarter, Notre Dame went on a 20-5 run to take a 34-30 lead over UConn.  The teams would go in to halftime with a tie ballgame, but UConn responded in a big way after the break.  The Huskies took a lead in the 3rd quarter, out scoring Notre Dame 16 to 9.

While UConn very much relies on their star-studded trio, Notre Dame prefers to battle using its depth and balance.  Point guard Lindsay Allen contributed 11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a steal over 40 minutes for the Fighting Irish.  Brianna Turner led Notre Dame in scoring and added 16 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

This is definitely a step back for the Fighting Irish, but UConn is a monster of a program and this can serve as a learning experience.  No other team in the nation should be as difficult as this Huskies squad, so maybe playing against this powerhouse will go a long way towards preparing Notre Dame for the tournament.

John Sill