Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Best vs. Best Fans Can Expect Classic Basketball When Notre Dame and Connecticut Meet in a Semifinal Match between Two Great Women's Teams

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Best vs. Best Fans Can Expect Classic Basketball When Notre Dame and Connecticut Meet in a Semifinal Match between Two Great Women's Teams

Article excerpt

They are playing tonight in a semifinal that might as well be the championship game because Notre Dame and Connecticut clearly are the two best women's college basketball teams left in the NCAA tournament, and their three previous meetings this season have been classics.

For the Irish, now the dominant team in a series in which the Huskies had won 12 straight, the trick not only will be trying to beat the same opponent four times in a single season.

It also will be to win this single game at New Orleans Arena against a Connecticut (33-4) team that has played its best basketball of the year during the NCAA tourney after losing two regular-season games and the Big East tournament final to the Irish by one, two and nine points -- including one in triple overtime.

"We've done some really great things at the end of the game to win ... whether it was a defensive stop or a huge basket or something good," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of the games with the Huskies this season. "We certainly would hope that karma continues."

If it does, Notre Dame will be in its third straight final Tuesday against the Louisville-California semifinal winner. The Irish lost to Texas A&M in the 2011 title game and to Baylor last year.

Their success continued in fashion Thursday, when Irish guard Jewell Loyd of Niles West was named National Freshman of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

And McGraw was named USBWA Coach of the Year -- for the second time -- after taking an Irish team that replaced three starters to a third straight Final Four appearance.

Loyd, a starter from the first game, averaged 12.5 points per game while logging the second highest number of minutes (31 per game) for the Irish. Only All-America point guard Skylar Diggins played more (31.8).

"Jewell has really added another weapon for us that maybe we haven't had in the past," Diggins said in a statement. …

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