The UConn Huskies’ three-season dominance of women’s basketball ended tonight, as Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish knocked them off in the Final Four.
The story is really best told by my friend Alana, a daughter of ND alums, partially raised in Indiana:
UConn star Maya Moore could not overcome Notre Dame, led by guard Skylar Diggins, who scored 28 points tonight and had the look of a woman who was not finished winning games in this particular series. March was lucky indeed for the Irish, who had already knocked off a Tennessee team they hadn’t bested in 20 games.
The Huskies pulled back within six a little more than three minutes from the final buzzer, with a series of buckets from Moore pulling them closer than the 10 deficit they faced at the half, but it wasn’t to be. Statistics aside, shots of UConn coach Geno Auriemma courtside after the two-minute warning told the tale. Or at least I thought you could see it on his face:
He just did. He looked like a guy who knew his girls were done, that they were going to lose this game. And I have to say that of all of the displays of basketball coaching I’ve witnessed from many men and women over the past few weeks, I think that Geno Auriemma handled this situation in the best possible way for the situation he was facing for his players and himself.
And I don’t even like UConn, so you can take that to the bank.
“They played great basketball all year,” he said in the post-game presser, which UConn also handled with aplomb across the board, of Notre Dame.
“It’s their turn.”
Moore was a model of poise and mature disappointment in her post-game interview, speaking of her UConn family as the best thing she’d gotten from her competitive experience.
And to anyone who says that women’s basketball isn’t exciting or athletically viable? I say you missed a hell of a game, and a fine example of collegiate athletes working hard to represent themselves and their teams on and off the court. I don’t give a damn where the net is or how exciting anyone thinks games are or should be. I know basketball, and this was good, competitive basketball, gender aside. All of the women on that court tonight should be proud.
The Irish will meet the Aggies Tuesday in the NCAA women’s championship.