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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Maturity a Major Weapon for the Irish in 74-67 Overtime Win over Huskies

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Photo Caption: The importance of Kayla McBride’s emerging role as a fourth offensive option for the Irish cannot be understated. The sophomore guard, who goes by K-Mac, missed half of last sealing dealing with “off-court issues,” but has returned this year with a vengeance, averaging a team-third-best 11.9 points, plus 4.6 rebounds and two assists, per game. McBride registered a double-double of 10 points, including the game-tying bucket near the end of regulation, and a team-high 12 rebounds in Notre Dame’s 74-67 come-from-behind overtime victory over No. 2 Connecticut Saturday.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Notre Dame Athletics Media Relations




By Mark Bradford
Correspondent

No. 3-Notre Dame’s 74-67 overtime victory over No. 2 Connecticut was exciting, loud, tense … and almost predicted.

Just a few days before the game, Seton Hall coach Anne Donovan, whose team had lost to both UConn and Notre Dame by similar scores, had said, in an interview with the South Bend Tribune that Notre Dame was probably a better team because they were more comfortable with how each other played.

That’s one definition of team maturity.

And it was that team maturity that won the day for the Irish.

Before a packed house of screaming Irish faithful, Connecticut had the ball and the opportunity to win in regulation, only to have the ball thrown away by freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. 

The freshman, who has shown streaks of brilliance over the course of the season, was in the wrong position on the floor and that began the final unraveling of a game that coach Geno Auriemma, guard Bria Hartley, and guard Kelly Faris all adamantly said they should have won.

“The game was in our hands,” a dejected Faris spat out.

But it was more than one play. UConn continually made runs, getting up by seven and eight points, only to wilt under the unbridled team defense that Notre Dame engaged when necessary.

Team maturity. There was no panic during the Irish time outs to halt the Huskies’ momentum. There was no panic when Irish center Devereaux Peters and forward Natalie Achonwa were both benched for 10 minutes of the first half for foul issues.

No panic, just resolve. A word that McGraw later admitted described this team in great fashion.

Instead, when UConn attempted to step on Notre Dame’s throat, the Irish responded in Walker-Texas Ranger style, bringing the crowd to its feet in a deafening, almost mad, wall of sound.

“The crowd really had a lot to do with how we played,” Irish guard Natalie Novosel (20 points) said.

“They were much louder than they were at Kentucky, and that was really loud,” emerging Irish star Kayla McBride (10 points) said.

A year ago, McBride, who arrived on campus as a McDonald’s All-American and the prized recruit of the incoming class, was sidelined for last’s year’s championship run, leaving the team after just 19 games as she tended to what McGraw described only as “an off-court issue.” In the interim, McBride, who also missed last summer’s U19 World Championships after helping Team USA to a gold medal in U18 play in 2010, has grown, both as a student, able to balance the competing demands of the classroom and the basketball court, and as an athlete.

Today, it is a more mature McBride who now takes the tough shot, drives the ball into small cracks in the defense and picks up when Skylar Diggins, Novosel, or Devereaux Peters has an off night.

Despite a team-high 22 points, it wasn’t Diggins’s best night. Indeed, the junior guard began the game missing five of her first seven shots from the field. But her maturity helped her overcome the struggles of an off-shooting game and rally to lead a surge that pulled the Irish back into first-half contention. And it was a Diggins steal (she finished with four of them) at the end of regulation that led to McBride’s tying bucket.

“Skylar ignited us. She made a three, got to the rim, hit some free throws, really came on,” McGraw said afterward.

In other words, she had the maturity of a player who refuses to quit even when the situation appears bleak, who finds multiple ways to contribute when frustrated with her shot.

It was Peters’ night to be just average. Plagued by foul trouble, Peters (nine points, seven rebounds) was a split second late all night in a game where split seconds truly mattered. 

But now, the Irish have a fourth, consistent scoring weapon in McBride.

UConn was limited to one, a spectacular 25-point effort by Bria Hartley who has also gained maturity in her sophomore season with the Huskies. After that, on this particular day at least, not much.

For the Huskies as a team—one that has done surprisingly well in spite of the loss of their scoring, and spiritual, leader in Maya Moore and their reliance on multiple freshmen and sophomores—it was pretty much an average effort in a game that required…, umm, …well, …I guess…. In a game that required team maturity.

Originally published Sun, January 08, 2012


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NCAA DIVISION I TOP 25 COACHES' POLL
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Week: February 7, 2012
RANK SCHOOL RECORD LAST WEEK'S RANK PRESEASON RANK AP RANK POINTS
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
(61)
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
(70)
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
(38)
92
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
(18)
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
(13)
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
(23)
NR-RV
(19)
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.