Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

UConn/Notre Dame rivalry has become can't miss TV

It is somewhat ironic that right in the Volunteer State comes the latest showdown in the rivalry which has filled the void since the abrupt end to the always entertaining UConn/Tennessee series.

Although this is the first meeting between UConn and Notre Dame this season, for the seniors it will be the 13th time that the teams have met since they arrived on the scene.

"That is great for our fans, great for our program, great for our kids that we are up there and people want to see us," said Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey, who was a star guard on the 2001 Notre Dame national championship team which beat UConn in the national semifinals. "Regardless of who it is, it is great to have that support and for that game to be THE game for women's basketball."

Notre Dame has had the edge in these last four seasons, winning seven of the last nine meetings and going 8-4 against the Huskies since the start of the 2010-11 season.

"I wanted it to be this game," Notre Dame's Michaela Mabrey said. "I think it is two teams who have had this (rivalry) for so long."

A year ago Notre Dame beat UConn twice during the regular season and again in the Big East title game but UConn got the last laugh with an 83-65 win over Notre Dame in the Final Four en route to winning the program's eighth national title.

Now they square off again, not in the semifinals as they have done four times but in the title game. Adding to the magnitude of the game is the fact that it is the undefeated Huskies meeting the undefeated Fighting Irish.

"It's always been a great rivalry, great thing for women's basketball," UConn senior guard Bria Hartley said. "I think the fans enjoy  watching games like that. I  think it's just great that we're able to play them in a national championship in my senior year, because it's been such a competitive game throughout all the years, and I know we've all enjoyed it."

There has been a different vibe to things this year. The teams played each other four times during the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons but with Notre Dame joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, there were no regular-season meetings this season.

"In the national championship game you wouldn't want to play anybody else but another undefeated team," UConn sophomore forward Breanna Stewart said. "It is going to test us, see how good we are this season and how much better we have gotten this season. We have worked really hard to get to where we are right now and we want to go out and play really well."

"I think just because you have played them so many times and like Bria said she has played them 12 times in the last three years and it is going to come with that, each game UConn has won,Notre Dame has won and when we play each other we know that we've lost to Notre Dame some times and Notre Dame has lost to us sometimes. When a team has been able to have as much success over the other one, it is frustrating and that is such a huge rivalry."

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