CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, girls’s faculty basketball, and completely different faculty sports activities actions for espnW. Voepel began masking girls’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
The UConn-Notre Dame assortment has been marked by additional durations of Huskies dominance. Nevertheless when the teams meet Sunday at Notre Dame, the Irish will doubtless be No. 1 and the perceived favorite, flipping the same old script.
Every teams are unbeaten coming into the first most important showcase of the season (ESPN/WatchESPN, 4 p.m. ET). UConn is ranked No. 2; it is the sixth time the purposes have met as a result of the 1-2 teams inside the Associated Press poll. Nevertheless it is merely the second time — the other was 17 years previously — that the Irish preserve the No. 1 spot heading into their meeting.
“I’m excited it’s a sellout; I really feel our followers are excited regarding the sport,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw talked about. “Nationally, it’s top-of-the-line rivalries in girls’s faculty basketball, so I really feel people will doubtless be tuning in to see what happens proper right here.”
She has an expert workforce. As for getting a number of of her youthful avid gamers ready for a sport of this magnitude, McGraw talked about the veterans ought to ready the bottom.
“It’s a tall exercise; there could also be such a distinct segment between our starters and our bench now,” she talked about. “We merely need any particular person to return alongside. It’s going to be a matter of the upperclassmen really instilling some confidence inside the freshman.”
Their ultimate meeting was an on the spot primary: Notre Dame acquired 91-89 in additional time inside the nationwide semifinals in March in Columbus, Ohio. Plenty of the important thing avid gamers from that sport are once more. And a few who didn’t play the least bit in that contest might end up as difference-makers Sunday.
For the 7-Zero Irish, Kathryn Westbeld, their guts-and-grit forward, is crucial loss from a season previously. Nevertheless they’ve once more their completely different starters: Arike Ogunbowale, who hit the game-winning shot versus UConn, Jackie Youthful, Marina Mabrey and Jessica Shepard. Mabrey was out the early part of this season with a quadriceps hurt nevertheless returned ultimate Saturday in Notre Dame’s 91-81 victory over Oregon State.
Mabrey and the rest of the Irish dismantled No. 14 Iowa 105-71 on Thursday, with all 5 Irish starters scoring in double figures, led by Ogunbowale’s 30. That options forward Brianna Turner, who missed ultimate season after an ACL hurt inside the 2017 NCAA match. Turner, a redshirt senior, had 14 components and 11 rebounds in the direction of Iowa, and is averaging 14.Zero PPG and eight.7 RPG this season.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma says he’s anxious to see how sophomore forward Megan Walker, above, and freshman guard Christyn Williams perform in an infinite sport. M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon SportswireUConn (6-Zero), though, moreover has some current contributors who weren’t on the forefront (or there the least bit) for ultimate yr’s conferences. Nevertheless sit up for them Sunday. Sophomore forward Megan Walker is averaging 11.5 components and 5.5 rebounds, and freshman guard Christyn Williams 10.eight components and 4.Zero rebounds. Walker is capturing 54.7 p.c from the sphere, Williams 61.Zero p.c.
“You want Christyn and Megan to do irrespective of they should do to help us win the game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma talked about. “I would like them to play good, and to essentially really feel what it feels choose to be in that kind of sport and setting. I would like them to be in situations the place they’re guarding any particular person they can’t guard. And that every defensive and offensive possession means quite loads. We have two youthful avid gamers that I’m anxious to see how they do.”
UConn acquired 80-71 inside the regular-season meeting with Notre Dame ultimate December in Hartford, Connecticut, a sport by which the Huskies took over the fourth quarter 26-9. Walker carried out 16 minutes then, taking one shot. She accomplished with three components and 6 rebounds. Inside the nationwide semifinal, she didn’t play, as UConn used merely six avid gamers.
Sue Hen. Skylar Diggins. Arike Ogunbowale. Breanna Stewart. Among the many sport’s best avid gamers have produced the best performs in Huskies-Irish historic previous.
LaChina Robinson chats with UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who weighs in on the WNBA’s pay equity problem, his employees and preparing for the 2018 season.
The 6-foot junior guard helped the Stopping Irish rally earlier Oregon State of their very first examine of the season and win the Vancouver Showcase.
2 RelatedThree of them for the time being are inside the WNBA: Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse and Azura Stevens. The other three are once more as a result of the Huskies’ core: seniors Katie Lou Samuelson, at current averaging 20.Zero components and 6.eight rebounds, and Napheesa Collier (18.three components, 9.eight rebounds), and junior Crystal Dangerfield (13.2 components, 5.three assists).
Samuelson had 18 components inside the first meeting with the Irish ultimate season and 16 inside the second. Collier led UConn inside the semifinal with 24 components, and had 15 inside the first meeting.
The Huskies are coming off a 99-63 victory Wednesday over DePaul. That they had been pushed by St. John’s nevertheless acquired 65-55 inside the Virgin Islands ultimate Friday. Except for that, Sunday’s sport will doubtless be their very first examine.
Notre Dame has already confronted one different top-10 foe in then-No. 9 Oregon State, and trailed by 9 at halftime inside the Vancouver Showcase. Nevertheless the Irish rallied with a 50-point second half to win, led by 23 components from Youthful and 21 each from Turner and Ogunbowale.
Thursday, McGraw was notably happy with the best way wherein the Irish handed the ball in the direction of Iowa, with 21 assists. Their ball movement has been a key by way of the years of their success in the direction of UConn.
“We nonetheless have loads of work to do defensively,” McGraw talked about. “Nevertheless really excited regarding the assist-to-turnover ratio, 21-9. That’s the issue that has been missing.”
Nonetheless, the Irish have normally taken the operate of underdog in the direction of UConn. They’ve come into completely different video video games ranked elevated than the Huskies, along with some conferences in the midst of the stretch from 2011-13, when Notre Dame acquired seven of eight inside the assortment.
Nevertheless the one completely different time they’ve met as 1-2 teams with Notre Dame ranked first was the 2001 Massive East match remaining; the Irish had gotten the best score that yr by getting their first-ever win over the Huskies in the midst of the widespread season. Sue Hen acquired the league match title sport with a leap shot on the buzzer, nevertheless Notre Dame claimed the 2001 nationwide championship after beating UConn inside the semifinals.
Brianna Turner, who was sidelined for ultimate season’s nationwide championship run as she rehabbed a knee hurt, is averaging 14 components and eight.7 rebounds by seven video video games this season. AP /Robert FranklinAll in all, no workforce has challenged UConn higher than the Irish over the earlier 17 years, relationship once more to that first Notre Dame win inside the assortment. Nonetheless, UConn has a 36-12 basic assortment lead, and the Huskies have acquired their video video games over the Irish by a imply of 15.6 components. The Irish have acquired their video video games inside the assortment by a imply of eight.6 components.
Neither coach believes any of that historic previous — along with ultimate March’s epic sport — components into Sunday. It’s going to be on followers’ minds, actually, nevertheless for the teams, it’s a new battle.
“I don’t perceive how anybody else affords with it; I perceive how we deal with it,” Auriemma talked about of a workforce being inside the favorite’s operate. “It’s good for us every every so often to easily actually really feel unencumbered by one thing apart from we now have now to play correctly.”