Irish shock UConn, reach final against AggiesApr 4, 2011 - 5:16 AM Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - After Notre Dame was finished with his top-seeded Huskies, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma couldn't list the reasons fast enough.
The Irish are impossible to play defense against. Things fell apart when his pedigreed Huskies started fouling. They let the other team's great players take control of the game.
All good reasons why Connecticut won't be playing in the NCAA championship game for the first time in three years. But four other words muttered by Auriemma in a solemn press conference summed things up better.
"Things just went awry," the coach said.
Skylar Diggins scored 28 points, Natalie Novosel had 22 and Notre Dame survived a furious rally by Huskies senior Maya Moore for a 72-63 victory in the Final Four, moving on to face Texas A&M in Tuesday's title game.
The second-seeded Irish (31-7) knocked off another No. 1 seed after making it past Tennessee to win the Dayton region, shooting better than 51 percent from the floor against UConn and outscoring the two-time defending champion Huskies 46-31 in the second half.
Moore finished her sparkling career with a loss, but didn't go down without a fight, pouring in 36 points while playing all but a second of the game.
With the Huskies (36-2) reeling, she scored 16 straight points for her team to keep them in it, including a three-pointer that got them within 63-60 after they had been down by 12.
"She's a great player and tonight she was hitting everything," said teammate Kelly Faris. "She came out with the mentality that this was not going to be her last game and she carried us."
Momentum shifted back into Notre Dame's favor, however, after Novosel knocked down a straightaway jumper and Diggins stole the ball from Faris at the other end.
Diggins drove down for a layup that gave the Irish a 67-60 lead with 1:35 remaining -- a crushing turn for the Huskies.
And as much as Moore kept her team in the game, she couldn't red-line it to the end. She went just 1-for-3 at the foul line after Diggins' bucket and missed her last two shots from the field, finishing 14-for-30 for the game.
Moore led Connecticut to back-to-back national championships the last two years and was part of the team's NCAA-record 90-game winning streak, but was at a loss for words to name the pinnacle of her college career.
"I loved my whole time here," she said. "I can't really pinpoint a moment."
The Irish, meanwhile, moved on to play for the national championship for the first time since they captured it in 2001. They snapped a 12-game losing streak against their Big East rivals that included three defeats this season.
Earlier on Sunday, second-seeded Texas A&M knocked off Stanford in a thriller, 63-62, to reach the title game for the first time. The Aggies beat two No. 1 seeds to reach the final, also toppling Baylor in the Elite Eight.
- NOTRE DAME: 72
Apr 3 11:49 PM
- NOTRE DAME: 26
Apr 3 10:37 PM
- NOTRE DAME: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Apr 3 9:56 PM
- Obama honors UConn women for another national championship May 10
- Duke's Azura Stevens transfers to UConn Apr 30
- UConn coach Geno Auriemma released from the hospital Apr 19
- UConn coach Auriemma hospitalized with undisclosed illness Apr 17
- UConn star Morgan Tuck to enter WNBA draft Apr 6
- Returning UConn players say they're ready to take baton Apr 6
- UConn skips campus parade due to weather, will rally indoors Apr 6
- Four-Peat: UConn beats 'Cuse for 4th straight national title Apr 6
- Syracuse-UConn Preview Apr 4
- Tuck and Stewart lead UConn back to the title game Apr 3
- Oregon St.-UConn Preview Apr 2
- Oregon State and UConn take different paths to Final Four Apr 2