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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

UConn fights back to beat rival Notre Dame

Without the services of All-American Gabby Williams for the entire second half and Katie Lou Samuelson for all but a second in the fourth quarter, it looked as if UConn's 68-game home winning streak was toast.

However, the Huskies rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 9 1/2 minutes to pull out an 80-71 victory over a very good Notre Dame team.

"That fourth quarter really came down to collectively that you could see a change," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after he won his 998th career game. "It was partly Kia (Nurse), partly Crystal, Pheesa (Napheesa Collier) looks the same all the time, Z (Stevens) had a different look on her. I think it was a collective thing for us. We don't have that one person who walks around, acts like it and demands that kind of response. You can't manufacture it and it has to be a team thing and that is what happened in the fourth quarter, you could see it, the demeanor of the team changed."

Stevens had 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback victory.

"It was something I was looking for in a program," said Stevens, who played at Duke in her first two seasons. "How we came back and how we kind of rallied together, we knew Lou was out, Gabby was out and the way we were feeling, we said we were still going to get this win instead of shrugging our shoulders and thinking we are not going to do it."

The good news is that Samuelson did check into the game briefly at the end, something that wouldn't have happened if her injury was a serious one.

"It was a similar ankle sprain it wasn't stepped on," Samuelson said. "We'll evaluate it again but I was happy I had the opportunity to play again."

Williams has had issues with migraine headaches this season and seeing how much she struggled in the first half, Auriemma chose not to play her in the second half.

"If you are playing lousy than you aren't going to play," Auriemma said. "If there is a reason why you are playing lousy, OK we know what the reason is but you are still playing lousy. Does that mean if she was playing great that I would have left her in there? Of course because that would mean she was able to handle what was happening to her but obviously she couldn't so for our sake and hers it is best that you don't play. She said I could probably give it a go but the look said no so I made an executive decision."

UConn plays at DePaul on Friday but then not again until a game against Oklahoma on Dec. 19 at Mohegan Sun Arena so there should be time for them to get healthy.

Auriemma said he didn't have a date when he expected sophomore forward Batouly Camara to make her UConn debut as she works her way back from a preseason knee injury.

Samuelson had 18 points including the 200th 3-pointer of her career. She got there in 77 games and only UConn players, only Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis got there faster needing only 72 games. Also, Nurse set a UConn program record by making her 12th 3-pointer in a row which is two shy of the NCAA Division I record. She did miss one of her four treys so she won't be going after the 

There were some high-profile recruits at today's game including Paige Bueckers, a Class of 2020 guard from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, top Class of 2021 recruit Azzi Fudd out of the D.C. area and the daughter of former Georgetown star Katie Smrcka-Duffy and Class of 2019 post player Aliyah Boston, who plays at Worcester Academy. All three already have UConn offers.


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