UConn had defeated Notre Dame in 12 straight games entering the NCAA national semifinals in Indianapolis April 3, 2011. The Irish stopped the losing streak that night as All-American Skylar Diggins had 28 points and six assists in a 72-63 victory.
Notre Dame has since won seven of the last eight games in the series.
Here is what Diggins has to say about the mindset of the Irish heading into that game as well as heading into tonight’s game …
“For us, we just felt like we had nothing to lose,’’ Diggins said. “So I think that was our mindset that we played with. We were the underdogs and we had nothing to lose. And coming into this game I don’t feel like we’re the underdog. I still feel like Connecticut is America’s team and they’re going to cheer for them whether we beat them 20 times in a row. So I think we approach this game with the mindset that we can beat them because have before, at the same time they’re a great team and we didn’t win by 20. The game was decided within the last couple minutes. So if we’re able to make some runs of our own, sustain their runs, make big plays and believe in ourselves, fight through some adversity and make some big plays at the end of the game and we’ll be fine.’’
UConn finds itself in a similar situation as Notre Dame in 2011. The Huskies have lost three games to the Irish this season. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said that at this point those games are in the past.
“Not winning the previous three and we win (tonight), you don’t remember the other three,’’ Auriemma said. “So I guess what happened in those other three doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that matters now is what happens (tonight). That’s it.’’
The Huskies insist that Notre Dame is not in their heads right now despite their recent run of misfortune.
“I think this is on us,’’ senior Kelly Faris said. “Every time we’ve lost we’ve had the game in our hands. It’s like it’s right there and then something goes wrong or some miraculous thing happens and then that’s it. So no, it’s more us. We have it.
“We have things to prove to ourselves. Everybody else, it doesn’t matter. This is about our team, what we’re going to get done and we need to prove to ourselves that we can do it.’’
Said junior All-American Stefanie Dolson: “I think we are just going into it just kind of ready to play. We’ve played them so many times and have lost. We’re feeling good about where we are as a team. We’re flowing. We’re jelling at the right time and we’re all having fun. I think we’re just ready to get out there and play.’’
Said sophomore All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis: “I’m glad we’re playing them right now, especially with the stakes are high and it means the most to them and it means the most to us. So a win would mean everything to us and the loss would be devastating for them. So we wouldn’t have it any other way.’’