Notre Dame, UConn advance to women’s title game


No. 1 UConn and No. 1 Notre Dame have been the two best teams in women’s college basketball all season long, with both teams rolling through the season without a single blemish on their respective resumes. That remained the case in Sunday’s national semifinals, and as a result the former conference rivals will meet on the game’s biggest stage Tuesday night.

And that will be the first time in the history of women’s college basketball that the title game matches undefeated teams.

The question for Notre Dame was a simple one: would they be able to account for the loss of leading rebounder Natalie Achonwa, with the senior forward suffering a torn ACL in the South Bend regional final. Thanks to the scoring of Kayla McBride and a group effort on the boards the Fighting Irish were able to do so against No. 4 Maryland, beating the Terrapins 87-61 in the first semifinal.

McBride finished the game with 28 points to go along with seven rebounds, making 12 of her 21 attempts from the field. As a team Muffet McGraw’s squad shot 50.8% from the field, but the story for Notre Dame was their rebounding. Notre Dame managed to rebound 52.8% of its missed shots, scoring 20 second-chance points. Jewell Loyd (five offensive rebounds) and Markisha Wright (four) accounted for nine of Notre Dame’s 19 offensive boards with the latter combining with Taya Reimer to help the Fighting Irish account for the loss of Achonwa inside.

Brionna Jones scored 16 points and Alyssa Thomas added 14 for the Terrapins, with the latter shooting 5-for-13 from the field in her college finale. Thomas ends here collegiate career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

As for UConn, the Huskies got off to a slow start from the field as they made just five of their first 20 field goal attempts. Geno Auriemma’s team would get going late in the first half, turning a six-point deficit into a four-point lead at the intermission in what would eventually become a 75-56 win over No. 2 Stanford.

UConn has just a six-player rotation but all six contribute, with five starters finishing Sunday’s win in double figures and reserve Kiah Stokes adding nine points off the bench. Breanna Stewart paced the Huskies with 18 points while also grabbing seven rebounds, and UConn’s front court length factored into Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike scoring 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting. As a team Stanford shot 38.2% from the field after making seven of their first 12 shots, and the 6-for-25 night from beyond the arc didn’t help matters either.

Normally a game between Notre Dame and UConn at this stage in the season would represent the third or fourth time they’ve met, meaning that there would essentially be no secrets. But thanks to conference realignment, with the Fighting Irish in the ACC and the Huskies in the American, that isn’t the case.

What hasn’t changed is the fact that these two elite programs have continued to rack up wins, and as a result they’ll be playing for a spot in the history books Tuesday night.

Louisville campus police reviewing escort allegations

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Louisville campus police now say they are reviewing allegations that a former men’s basketball staffer hired escorts to dance and have sex with recruits and players in a dormitory.

Katina Powell has alleged in a book released online over the weekend that former Cardinals director of basketball operation Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for dancers to perform 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory. The school reported those allegations to the NCAA and has launched an investigation.

“The University of Louisville Police Department, in consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is reviewing allegations regarding the men’s basketball program,” University police chief Wayne Hall said Tuesday in a statement.

It was the first confirmation that police are looking into the allegations. When contacted last week, a campus police operator said they weren’t aware of the book allegations, and it was unclear at that time if an investigation had been launched.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has said that McGee denied Powell’s allegations.

McGee left in 2014 and is currently an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City, which has put him on paid leave.

Pitino said Saturday that he hasn’t read Powell’s book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” and doesn’t plan to. The 104-page book was published by an affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal and is scheduled for hardcover release Oct. 12.

The woman said that she and three of her daughters, along with other women, danced and stripped for Louisville recruits and players and performed sex acts with them, according to the book. Powell, 43, also said McGee offered recruits alcohol at those parties.

Upon hearing of the allegations, Pitino said he did some investigating on his own before being told by the school’s compliance department not to talk to players. But the coach said he talked to other assistants about the allegations and all of them denied knowing of the activities outlined in Powell’s book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Louisville has hired Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group, which assists schools in NCAA cases, to review the allegations.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City under Kareem Richardson, who was a Cardinals assistant from 2012-13. He was placed on paid administrative on Friday and has been unavailable for comment. McGee’s Louisville attorney, Scott Cox, didn’t comment because the investigation is ongoing.

St. John’s hires Mitch Richmond as a special assistant

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St. John’s added its second Hall of Famer to the coaching staff on Tuesday, announcing Mitch Richmond had been hired as a special assistant to first-year head coach Chris Mullin.

Mullin and Richmond, along with Tim Hardaway, made up Run TMC, the short-lived, high-scoring offense the Golden State Warriors played from 1989-91.

Mullin was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 2011. Three years later, he was a presenter to Richmond’s enshrinement in Springfield.

“Mitch is committed to helping us build this program and develop an environment for sustained success at St. John’s,” Mullin said in a statement. “He has tremendous basketball insight, a vision for the game and a passion to share his knowledge. Obviously, his experience in different roles throughout his career as a player, scout and mentor will have an impact in many areas.”

Earlier this summer, Mullin bolstered his coaching staff with the additions of associate head coach Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih. Greg St. Jean was hired later in the summer.

The Red Storm open the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Wagner.