Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame just seem to have Connecticut’s number.
The Irish have turned one of the best rivalries in women’s basketball into a one-sided affair lately, winning five of the past six meetings.
The senior All-American scored 19 points, hitting big shot after big shot in the second half, to lift fifth-ranked Notre Dame to a 73-72 victory over the top-ranked Huskies on Saturday in Storrs, Conn.
The Irish (12-1 overall, 1-0 Big East) extended their mastery over the Huskies after beating them in the Final Four the past two years.
“I think when we play them, there is a lot on the line, whether it is a Big East championship or them being ranked higher than us or in the Final Four,” Diggins said. “This is good for us.”
The Irish were expected to be down this season with three starters graduated. It didn’t matter with Diggins still on the team.
With UConn poised to pull away in the second half, Diggins hit back-to-back 3-pointers to keep her team in the game.
Later, with the shot clock running out, Diggins hit a leaner from the wing.
Finally, with the Irish down by one with 49 seconds remaining, she got fouled on a drive and calmly sank both free throws. It would be the last points of the game.
UConn (12-1, 0-1) had a few chances to pull out the win in the final 30 seconds but fell short in front of a sellout crowd of 10,127.
Breanna Stewart had her shot blocked in the lane. The Huskies maintained possession and then, after a timeout, Stewart missed a jumper from the top of the key. Kelly Faris grabbed the rebound giving UConn one more chance, but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis caught the ball in the corner and her wide-open 3 fell off the rim.
The Irish grabbed the loose ball and Diggins ran out the clock.