Just like last year, but in a very different place, UConn and Notre Dame will play for the Big East regular-season championship Monday night in South Bend, Ind.
This will be the 10th meeting between the teams in the last three years: Notre Dame 5, UConn 4.
Last season, the Huskies ended the season by losing to the Irish at the XL Center, handing the Irish the regular-season title. One week later, the Huskies temporarily avenged the loss by beating them in the Big East championship game.
Nearly a month after that, the Irish eliminated the Huskies for the second straight season in the NCAA semifinals.
After Saturday’s win at South Florida, which featured a combined 57 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (32) and Stefanie Dolson (25), but just five from Bria Hartley (three) and Breanna Stewart, Auriemma was asked if a similar night Monday might doom UConn
“Only if we get 35 and 30 from Kaleena and Dolson, which might be possible,” Auriemma said. “Who knows? They’ve been right there all season in everything we’ve done. If we had a chart of their seasons, it might not flow straight across at 10, but it wouldn’t dip much below eight. They have been so unbelievably consistent that you just have to go with it and hope everyone else has to fill in a little bit, whatever that little bit is.”
Auriemma said this season has been one of the most unusual in his career.
“If you objectively looked at our team, you would say Kaleena, Kelly [Faris] and Stefanie have been the healthiest all season and haven’t missed a beat,” Auriemma said. “Everyone else has had issues and struggled for consistency.
“Now, factor in that three of them are so young [freshmen Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jeferson]. If we only had to play one of them, they would be much better. But since we have to play all three in big games, it’s been tough.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years, so much uncertainty. I understand that no one will feel sorry for us, but it’s been such an unusual year in so many ways.”