SOUTH BEND _ Fourteen seconds left, Irish up by one.
Basket Faris (where'd the defense go?) Miss Diggins. Foul. Free throw Dolson. Free throw Dolson. Miss Diggins.
Game over. From electric to flat.
It was supposed to be a Notre Dame women's basketball moment. National TV. UConn. More than 7,000 fans who defied a Lake Michigan haymaker.
Thirty-nine minutes of spunk ended with a thud. Connecticut's 79-76 win over the Irish Saturday was the great escape.
Another big one got away.
Forget the intimidation factor. The 14-1 Huskies' soft underbelly will make them vulnerable the rest of the season. They will lose again. Sometime.
That's good for women's basketball.
No more 90-game win streaks for a while. It's two and counting. Shoulda been two out of three - losses, that is.
“Notre Dame outplayed us in every area,” said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. “The last four minutes of the game, we won the game.”
Opportunities like this don't come along every day. The circumstances were right. Being home didn't hurt. The crowd was excited. The Irish were sharp. They refused to flinch.
Until the last 34 seconds.
For 39 minutes and 26 seconds, UConn's Stefanie Dolson was a lost, lumbering 6-foot-5 freshman in the middle. Too slow to handle Becca Bruszewski; too slow, and inexperienced, to contain Devereaux Peters.
Finally, she caught up with the game. With 34 seconds to play, the Huskies leading by one, Dolson blocked a Natalie Novosel shot. Thirty seconds later, after Kelly Faris' layup put UConn up, 77-76, Dolson willed Skylar Diggins' errant shot into her hands. Foul. Dolson drained a pair of free throws for the final margin.
Tough when, out of nowhere, a weakness suddenly becomes a strength.
Notre Dame deserved better. The Irish did too many things right. The moment was for their making.
Can't argue with coach Muffet McGraw's handling of the last few seconds. Ride the horse. Diggins needed the ball with five seconds to play. She got it. Jumper from the left elbow of the free throw line. Misses happen. Two seconds left. Diggins from the right corner. Nothing but air.
There were times when an Irish collapse seemed imminent. Four straight possessions late in the first half. Nothing. Three turnovers early in the second half. Plenty of points were left on the floor.
Still, the game never trickled away.
Another big one got away from Irish women
You have to hand it to Huskies for stepping up.
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