Dec. 3, 2017
HARTFORD, Conn. - In front of a sold-out XL Center crowd of 15,564 fans, the No. 3/2 University of Notre Dame women's basketball team (7-1) led the No. 1/1 UConn Huskies (7-0) for over 25 minutes on Sunday, but a fourth quarter surge gave UConn an 80-71 victory in the Jimmy V Classic.
"I think if you learn something when you lose it's a good thing, and I think we learned a lot, especially defensively with what we have to do," Karen and Kevin Keyes Head Women's Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw said. "I'm very pleased with where we are right now, especially looking at the stretch we've just come through. Seven straight on the road and (four straight ranked teams) -- we definitely are peaking. We're getting to where we need to get to."
How It Happened
Notre Dame's Jessica Shepard contributed six quick points, and Marina Mabrey added back-to-back threes to give the Irish a 14-12 lead over the Huskies at the first media timeout. The Irish crashed the boards early, collecting seven offensive rebounds and six more shots than UConn, and led the Huskies from the 6:28 to 1:24 mark in the first.
"I was really happy with (Jessica)," McGraw said. "She didn't look scared. For Jess, it was a big game in front of a big crowd, and she really rose to the occasion."
UConn went on a 9-0 run spanning from the first to the second period, but Mabrey's third three of the day led to a momentum swing in favor of the Irish. Notre Dame went on a 24-4 run over the ensuing 5:50, including seven straight points from Arike Ogunbowale, and the Irish took a 43-36 advantage into halftime.
The Irish and the Huskies exchanged baskets in the opening minutes of the second half, but Notre Dame's defense quickly stymied the Huskies, who were limited to 1-for-10 from the field and just six points in the final 6:15 of the period. The Irish capitalized on their defensive play, using a combined 13 points from Mabrey and Ogunbowale to build a 62-54 lead after three quarters.
However, the Huskies rallied to climb back and claim a 71-70 lead at the 3:50 mark, their first since leading, 28-27, at the 5:18 mark of the second quarter. UConn then completed the comeback, outscoring Notre Dame, 22-3, in the closing 7:30 and ultimately securing a 80-71 win over the Irish.
Player of the Game
Marina Mabrey tallied a season-high 21 points and three assists in the contest. Mabrey collected a career-high-tying four three-point field goals, including back-to-back threes in the first quarter to give Notre Dame its first lead of the game.
Mabrey recorded 20-plus points for the first time this season and double-figure points for the sixth time in 2017.
Stat of the Game
The matchup between the Irish and the Huskies featured eight lead changes. Notre Dame held an advantage for 25:19 of the contest, while UConn led for 11:38.
- Irish trail the all-time series, 36-11, including a 20-4 mark at UConn. The Huskies own a seven-game winning streak against Notre Dame.
- UConn marked Notre Dame's fourth straight ranked opponent and fifth overall. Only UConn's schedule matches that feat.
- Notre Dame moves to 4-1 against top-25 teams this season.
- Tonight's game marked No. 1,000 in Coach McGraw's career.
- Marina Mabrey collected her 1,000th career point in the game.
- Notre Dame became the 25th instant in which UConn's opponent outscored them in a half in the past 463 halves as the Irish outscored the Huskies in the first, 43-36.
- Today's game marked the first sellout at the XL Center since February 8, 2013, when UConn squared off against Baylor.