If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the UConn-Notre Dame rivalry, now tops in the world of women’s college basketball, you still might want to take in this short refresher course about their history before Sunday’s national semifinal game in New Orleans.
Notre Dame has won seven of the last eight meetings against UConn since the national semifinal game on April 3, 2011. This type of domination does not come along every day with the Huskies on the short end. Not since Miami won its first five games against UConn from Jan. 17, 1992 to Feb. 14, 1993 had any team had its way, in this way, against UConn.
Sunday’s national semifinal game in New Orleans will be the third straight between the teams. Notre Dame has won the two previous. It will also be the 15th meeting since the start of the 2010-11 season, the 12th over the last three years. To put that into context in terms of UConn rivals, the Huskies played Tennessee only 22 times from 1995 to 2007. Notre Dame and UConn will not play in the 2013-14 regular season since the Irish are leaving to join the ACC.
Margin of Victory
During Notre Dame’s recent string of success against UConn, the Irish’s cumulative point advantage has been only 40 points, and average of 5.0 a game. Keep in mind that before it began, UConn had won the last 12 games by 178 points, an average of 14.8
Notre Dame’s record against UConn was 4-21 from 1996 to 2008 and none of the victories came back-to-back. Included were winning streaks of 11 (1996-2000) and 12 (2005-11) for the Huskies. But since All-American guard Skylar Diggins showed up as a freshman in 2009-10, Notre Dame’s record is 7-8, including the last four straight.
Since the WNBA formed in 1997, the Irish have had 12 players drafted by the league, 10 who have played. They currently have three; Ruth Riley, Dev Peters and Natalie Novosel. The Huskies have had 24 players in the league and 13 on the rosters last season, including six who played for the 2012 Olympic gold medal team – Swin Cash, Sue Bird, Asjha Jones, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi
Notre Dame advances to the Final Four for the fifth time (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012) and this marks the first time in program history the Fighting Irish have earned three consecutive trips. The Irish have one national championship (2001). UConn is making its 14th appearance in the Final Four, its record sixth straight. It has won seven national championships and has never lost the big game. The Irish have lost the last two national championship games.
National Players of the Year
During its history, the Irish have had one Associated Press Player of the Year. Riley, the great center, won the award during its championship season of 2000-01. UConn has had eight players win AP Player of the Year, including two-time winner, Maya Moore (2009, 2011).
Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw are two of the great Hall of Fame coaches in the history of women’s basketball. Both have strong Philadelphia roots. McGraw was a four-year starter at Saint Joseph’s University, captained the 1976-77 team ranked third nationally. She returned to her alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons under Jim Foster, recently fired as head coach at Ohio State. Auriemma also was an assistant at St. Joseph’s for Foster before leaving for Virginia.
The rivalry that ends collegiately on Sunday between Diggins and UConn’s Kelly Faris goes back to their high school days in Indiana; Diggins, from South Bend, and Faris, from Plainfield, a suburb of Indianapolis. Faris won four consecutive Indiana Class 2A State Championships at Heritage Christian High. Diggins beat out Faris twice for Miss Indiana Basketball during her All-American career at Washington High where she won the Naismith as national player of the year as a senior.