Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fighting Irish Dig Deep to Advanc Women's Final Four: Notre Dame 83, Connecticut 75

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fighting Irish Dig Deep to Advanc Women's Final Four: Notre Dame 83, Connecticut 75

Article excerpt

DENVER --

Notre Dame is back in the national championship thanks to Skylar Diggins' steady leadership and Brittany Mallory's clutch shooting.

Diggins scored 19 points, Mallory hit two big 3-pointers in overtime and the Irish beat Connecticut, 83-75, Sunday night at Pepsi in the first national semifinal of the NCAA women's tournament.

Notre Dame (35-3) also beat the Huskies (33-5) in the semifinals a year ago, ending Maya Moore's brilliant career and the Huskies' bid for a third consecutive national championship. But Notre Dame stumbled 48 hours later, losing to Texas A&M in the title game in Indianapolis.

Unfinished business has been their mantra all season, and now they get a chance to take care of business Tuesday night against the Baylor-Stanford winner.

The score was tied at 67-67 after regulation after an 8-2 run by Connecticut that was fueled by a series of hustle plays from Kelly Faris, who had a steal and a basket and four free throws in the final 90 seconds.

The Huskies, who were led by Stefanie Dolson's 20 points despite foul trouble, stretched their run to 11-3 when Bria Hartley opened the extra period with a 3-pointer.

The Huskies had the ball again after a missed free throw but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis fired up an off-target 3-pointer early in the shot clock and Connecticut never recovered.

Diggins' best play came on defense. With Notre Dame clinging to a 73-72 lead, the Huskies had a two-on-one fastbreak but Diggins held her ground and forced a turnover, and the Irish scored the next eight points.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the game," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "The last two minutes, minute and a half of regulation were pretty amazing. As most games do, it turned on one great play by a great player.

"In overtime we didn't have enough. We took a chance on making it difficult, but Brittany Mallory made two huge shots. …

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