NEW ORLEANS — Three previous losses to Notre Dame this season cost the UConn women’s basketball team the Big East regular season and tournament championships. With their eye on a national championship, the Huskies earned the win they needed over the Irish Sunday in the NCAA national semifinals.
Freshman Breanna Stewart had a career-high 29 points and five rebounds UConn held Notre Dame to 29.7 percent shooting from the field in an 83-65 victory at New Orleans Arena.
The Huskies (34-4) will meet Louisville in the national championship game Tuesday night at 8:30 (ESPN). It will be a rematch of the 2009 tournament final in St. Louis – a 76-54 victory for UConn.
Behind 18 points from Antonita Slaughter, the Cardinals (29-8) overcame a 10-point deficit at halftime to defeat California 64-57 in the first semifinal. They are the first No. 5 seed to reach the final.
UConn is seeking its first national championship since winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 and its NCAA record-tying eighth overall. The Huskies are 7-0 all-time in the tournament final.
Notre Dame (35-2) had won four straight games and seven of eight in the series. The Irish had ended UConn’s season in the national semifinals in each of the last two seasons.
STAR OF THE GAME: Breanna Stewart. She finished with a career-high 29 points (10-of-16 FG) and five rebounds.
KEY TO THE WIN: The Huskies finished with first half with a 14-3 run to open a 39-29 lead at halftime. … Leading 50-43 with 12:22, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart answered with 3-pointers for the Huskies. … Irish All-American Skylar Diggins was 3-of-15 shooting from the field.
WORTH NOTING: The Big East is guaranteed to win its ninth women’s basketball national championship. That will be more than any other conference. SEC has 8 (Tennessee). … The Huskies improved to 1-3 all-time against Notre Dame in the national semifinals. … The Huskies are 15-6 all-time at the Final Four. … This was the 15th meeting between the teams since Jan. 16, 2010. … Mosqueda-Lewis has scored the third-most points ever by a UConn sophomore (652).
NEXT: NCAA tournament final Tuesday vs. Louisville at New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)