NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Semifinals

Fourth time the charm as UConn eliminates Notre Dame

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Entering Sunday’s national semifinal there were questions as to whether Notre Dame found a way to get into the heads of the UConn Huskies. The Fighting Irish won all three prior meetings this season and were 7-1 in their last eight games against the Huskies.

But it was Notre Dame that struggled mightily in New Orleans, shooting just 29% from the field in a game that UConn grabbed control of late in the first half. The end result was an 83-65 UConn victory, with the Huskies advancing to take on Louisville in the national title game Tuesday night.

Breanna Stewart, the highly-touted freshman who was beaten out by Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd for Big East Freshman of the Year, put forth the best outing of her young career with a career-high 29 points (10-of-15 FG) and five rebounds.

As a team the Huskies shot 46.8% from the field and its reserves outscored Notre Dame’s 20-9 (Bria Hartley: 16 points), which made up for their 22 turnovers. But for as big of a story it is for the Huskies to exorcise some demons there’s also the fact that Notre Dame had its worst offensive performance of the year in its biggest game of the season.

Skylar Diggins scored ten points on 3-of-15 shooting from the field, and in total the Notre Dame starters shot 18-of-66 (27.2%). The Fighting Irish managed to grab 28 offensive rebounds but they were unable to take advantage of those extra opportunities (20-17 UConn edge in second chance points), which ultimately led to their demise.

Diggins helped lead Notre Dame to three consecutive trips to the Final Four, but the program was unable to get over the hump in the sport’s biggest weekend. However it would be unfair to judge her storied career solely on the absence of a national title.

UConn and Louisville met just once during the regular season, a 72-58 Husky victory on January 15 (Stewart missed this game due to injury). The two programs played for the national title four years ago, with the Huskies winning 76-64 in St. Louis.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

VIDEO: Monmouth hits a game-winner, Bench Mob member tries to disrobe

King Rice
AP
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.

The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.