With their one-game winning streak in hand, the Huskies headed to Notre Dame to play the first of what would turn into a four-game series before the season was over.
And it was snowing. More snow than South Bend had seen since Knute Rockne was shoveling his driveway between practices.
By JOHN ALTAVILLA
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Record snow paralyzed Notre Dame's campus causing the first winter emergency the area has seen in 12 years - or at least since the loss to UConn in football in 2009.
But for the 9,149 who trudged to Purcell Pavilion Saturday to see the 13th-ranked Notre Dame women play No. 2 UConn, a warm glow kept things comfortable, especially when the Irish led 72-67 with 4:24 to play.
After all, this might finally be the day the Irish plowed over the Huskies.
Well, not quite.
"Those last few minutes were how we usually play; that's when the Connecticut team comes out," sophomore Kelly Faris said. "Unfortunately, we didn't play like that for the entire game, but it was good for us to see that we have it in us to pull it out."
Unwilling to lose, UConn's Maya Moore (31 points) and Faris (career-high 20 points) led the Huskies back for a 79-76 victory that featured the most incredible day of free-throw shooting (26 of 27) in UConn history.
"I am very disappointed by the outcome," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We played hard. We did a lot of good things. If we had just shot the ball a little better than we did [27 of 75] we might have been able to win."
Notre Dame (13-4, 2-1 Big East) had three players score in double figures, led by senior Devereaux Peters (17 points, 11 rebounds). Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel each had 16.
"The intimidation factor [against UConn] was over before the game started," Diggins said. "We were confident that we'd be able to execute our game plan."
After Faris made a layup with 14 seconds to play to give UConn a 77-76 lead, the Irish fouled freshman center Stefanie Dolson. She made both free throws to ice the game.
"I can tell you we weren't planning to have her open under the basket," McGraw said. "That wasn't the plan."
Dolson (eight points) was 4 of 4 from the line and is 23 of 25 for the season.
"She has a great touch, and I could see it this summer," Moore said. "I hope she can keep it up because it's really going to pay off for her."
UConn coach Geno Auriemma has always loved hyperbole, but his conversation this season has been laced with brutal honesty. He has known since the start this team was different, much different from the two that won national titles and 78 straight games before it.