Dec. 7, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
In a matchup between the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll and the No. 1 team in the WBCA coaches poll, the writers were the group who picked the winner of Wednesday night’s contest as AP No. 1 UConn defeated coaches No. 1 Notre Dame, 72-61, at a sold out Joyce Center.
Turner scored the game’s opening hoop 17 seconds into play but the Huskies reeled off the game’s next 11 points, putting the Irish into a significant deficit for the first time this year. UConn would eventually run its lead to 11 points at 25-11 early in the second quarter. The Irish charged forth from there, putting together a 20-5 run over the next eight minutes – dominating the contest’s second quarter. The team went to the locker room at halftime tied at 34.
A fairly-evenly played third quarter saw the score tied at 42-42 with 1:56 to play in the stanza before the Huskies went on an 8-1 run to close out the frame with a seven-point edge. The fourth quarter would see UConn extend its lead before claiming an 11-point win.
Turner recorded her third double-double in nine games this season with her 16 points and 12 rebounds. Curiously, all three of her double-doubles have included 12 rebound totals. She matched her dozen boards with 10 points against Washington and 16 against Louisiana-Lafayette. Turner is the only Notre Dame player to score in double figures in every game this year.
Eight of Turner’s 12 rebounds tonight were on the offensive glass, including the tip in of her own miss which gave her both her 10th rebound and then 10th point to ensure the double-double. The eight offensive rebounds were just one off of Turner’s career high of nine offensive boards, set at UCLA on Dec. 28, 2014.
Perimeter Defense Stout
Something the Irish did quite well on Wednesday night was neutralizing UConn’s long-range shooting. The Huskies entered the game first in the nation by shooting 44.4% from downtown on the year. UConn hit just one of its nine 3-pointers on Wednesday night. Katie Lou Samuelson connected on a triple for UConn’s first basket, 42 seconds into the game and the Huskies did not make another three for the rest of the game.
UConn had not made more than a single 3-pointer in a game since March 12, 2013, when Notre Dame held the Huskies without a triple (0-for-5) in a 61-59 Irish win in the BIG EAST championship game at the XL Center in Hartford.
Overall, Notre Dame’s defense did well as the Huskies shot 46.4% from the field after entering the game ranked second nationally at 50.5%. The one difference in the shooting categories came when there was no Irish defense to content with at all. UConn connected on 19-of-20 free throws in the game. The Irish only attempted eight free throws on the night, sinking four.
Coach McGraw Says
On what she learned about her team tonight: “I’m surprised. I really didn’t expect that. So I think we’ve got some thing to work on. I think we can learn from it. That’s a game in December that we can learn a lot from. We’ve got a lot of room to grow. I think we need to find somebody who can get the ball to Bri (other than Allen, Notre Dame combined for three assists). That would have helped us if we could have had that connection on the pass.”
Prior to the game, the Wooden Awards released its preseason top 30 player of the year candidates. Among the elite list were Allen and Turner.
The Irish don’t have much time to dwell on the defeat as they will travel down the Indiana Toll Road to face No. 16 DePaul on Saturday night in Chicago. The contest will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Plus as the Irish look to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since 2010.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.