No. 1 UConn rallies in fourth to beat No. 3 Notre Dame 80-71
HARTFORD — Katie Lou Samuelson scored 18 points, Azura Stevens added 17 and top-ranked UConn rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat No. 3 Notre Dame 80-71 on Sunday in the Jimmy V Classic.
The Huskies (7-0) trailed 65-54 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 21 of the next 26 points, much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 15,558 fans that took in the latest game between the former Big East rivals.
Stevens had 10 points during the game-changing run. Her layup gave the Huskies a 69-68 lead — their first since the second quarter.
Kia Nurse had seven points during the burst, including hitting her 13th consecutive 3-pointer over the past three games.
Her layup with 3:51 left gave UConn a 71-70 advantage after Arike Ogunbowale had briefly given the Irish (7-1) a 70-69 advantage. Nurse then had another layup off a tip from Stevens and the Irish couldn’t recover.
Ogunbowale’s hoop was the lone points for the Irish until she hit one free throw with 16 seconds remaining that made it 77-71. The Irish only had one basket in the final 7:48 of the game.
The Huskies made the run without two of their three preseason All-Americans. Gabby Williams didn’t play in the second half. She had been battling migraines this week.
Samuelson returned to the lineup after missing four games with a mid-sprain in her left foot. She left early in the fourth quarter limping back to the locker room. She did return to the bench during a timeout and played for about a second in a foul shooting substitution.
The win extended UConn’s home winning streak to 69 games — tied for third longest in NCAA history.
Marina Mabrey scored 21 points and Ogunbowale added 19 for the Irish.
Trailing 28-21 in the second quarter, the Irish scored 13 straight points and 20 of the next 22 to take a 42-30 advantage and stun the Huskies.
Ogunbowale scored the first seven points during the burst. The Irish led 43-36 at the half.
Notre Dame: The Irish have beaten the No. 1 ranked team in the country four times in 27 tries. All four of those wins came against the Huskies with the previous one on Jan. 15, 2013. … This was the 1,000th game that Muffet McGraw has coached at Notre Dame in her Hall of Fame career. She’s (772-227) at the school.
UConn: Kia Nurse broke the school record for consecutive 3-pointers made. She hit her 11th in a row midway through the first quarter to break the tie she held with Samuelson and Caroline Doty. The NCAA record is 14.
APPROACHING 1,000: Coach Geno Auriemma has 998 victories and is two away from becoming the third women’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 in his career. Pat Summitt and Tara VanDerveer each have crossed the milestone.
Notre Dame: The Irish host Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten challenge on Wednesday.
UConn: The Huskies head to Chicago to face DePaul on Friday.