Women’s Big East Notebook

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Player of the Week: Devereaux Peters, senior forward, Notre Dame

Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring against Connecticut and Texas A&M, but the Irish’s rebounding game helped stabilize them in Indianapolis.

Senior forward Devereaux Peters provided the inside force for Notre Dame throughout the tournament and put up solid numbers in the two biggest games of her career. In the 72-63 upset of the Huskies in the national semifinals, Peters scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. In the national title game, she picked up a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Notre Dame stuns Huskies, comes up short in title game

The Irish would insist that luck had nothing to do with their surprise trip to the national title game.

After a 73-59 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers, the top seed in the Dayton region, in the Elite Eight, Notre Dame faced an even greater challenge: the Connecticut Huskies, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

Connecticut was a killjoy for the Irish all season long, as the Huskies swept the regular season series against Notre Dame and knocked off the Irish 73-64 in the Big East Championship title game.

Like its male counterpart, Connecticut had arguably the best player in the NCAA Tournament in senior forward Maya Moore and hadn’t lost a game to a Big East opponent all season.

But there’s a first time for everything.

Notre Dame kept the score close for most of the first half. Moore and sophomore guard Kelly Faris gave Connecticut a 32-26 halftime lead with back-to-back baskets, but the Irish were determined to not let the game slip away.

Senior forward Becca Bruszewski gave the Irish a one-point lead early in the second half, and the Irish built it to a 59-47 advantage with 5:54 left in the game.

Moore led one final push for Connecticut, scoring 13 points in 3:26, which cut the deficit to 63-60. But sophomore guard Skylar Diggins and junior guard Natalie Novosel helped the Irish seal the game by combining for seven points in the final two minutes to down Connecticut 72-63.

The victory over Connecticut propelled Notre Dame to its first national title game since 2001 and earned the Irish an unexpected matchup with Texas A&M. The Aggies defeated Stanford, the only other team to beat Connecticut this season, 63-62, in their national semifinal.

The Irish got off to a slow start, as the Aggies built an early 25-12 lead with 9:52 left in the first half. Notre Dame stormed back with a 23-8 Diggins-led run to take a 35-33 lead at the half.

Notre Dame held its lead through the first 6:36 of the second half, but the Aggies eventually pulled even at 50-50. Following several minutes of back-and-forth play, the Aggies grabbed the lead for good at 58-57 with 8:30 remaining in the game.

Down three with 40 seconds remaining, the Irish resorted to sending Texas A&M to the foul line, where the Aggies shot 3-of-4, giving Notre Dame the opportunity to come back. But the Irish couldn’t score in their last four possessions, including going 0-of-3 from the field and a Diggins turnover, and fell 76-70.

The Big East may have been able to take the men’s national championship, but the women’s title will have to wait until at least next year.

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