It's rare that we have to have this conversation but UConn only faces Notre Dame two or three times a year. This is one of those times, and in light the Fighting Irish's recent success (they've won six of the last seven matchups), it's fair to wonder how the usually confident Huskies will rebound from the latest loss (this one in triple-overtime that included a whopping 35 UConn turnovers), especially with the Big East and NCAA Tournaments upon us.
If the conference tournament plays out anything like the regular season, it's fair to assume that top-seeded Notre Dame and No. 2 UConn will again meet in the finals. The Huskies' biggest issues in their last loss (other than the turnovers) was the inability to stop Kayla McBride (she torched them for 26 before fouling out in the second overtime) or Skylar Diggins (who went for 29 points).
"That’s what guards that are All-Americans do,” coach Geno Auriemma afterwards said of Diggins'. “I’ve had a couple of those in my lifetime and they make those kinds of plays and they make them when they need to be made. That’s what makes them who they are.
“It can be as simple as you want it to be or as complicated as you want it to be," he continued. "Your guards have to do a good job controlling the game and for stretches we did. At crucial times we didn’t. It’s very frustrating.”
Exacerbating that frustration: each win only makes Notre Dame more confident, and it starts with their coach, Muffet McGraw.
“We look at each (game) separately, but I think when you look at how many times we’ve played each other it’s really hard not to look at the aggregate,’’ McGraw said. “Gosh, what have we played each other, 13 times in the last like two and a half years? I think I feel like we’re going to find a way to win. We’ve got it rolling right now, and whatever it takes we’re going to find a way to win.’’
The Huskies will have time to regroup, however. As the Big East's No. 2 seed, they'll receive a double-bye to the quarterfinals in the conference tournament. They'll face one of three teams: No. 7 DePaul, No. 10 Marquette, or 15th-seeded Pittsburgh on Sunday at 6 p.m. When in the quarters and the semis and there's a good chance UConn runs into Notre Dame again. If the Huskies were to win there, it would mark their sixth straight Big East Tournament title.