No. 5 Notre Dame hangs on to upset top-ranked UConn in women’s basketball

Notre Dame's Kayla McBride (21) and Skylar Diggins, back left, fight for possession of the ball against Connecticut's Breanna Stewart (30) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. McBride and Diggins were top scorers for Notre Dame with 21 and 19 points, respectively. Notre Dame won 73-72. . (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Notre Dame's Kayla McBride (21), who led the Fighting Irish with 21 points, battled with Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart for a first-half rebound. (AP)
AP

It’s been a roller coaster seven days for Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies.

After easily beating then-No. 1 Stanford by 25 points last weekend, the top-ranked Huskies were edged, 73-72, at home by No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday in Storrs, Conn.

‘‘It’s definitely been an up-and-down week,’’ said Stefanie Dolson, who scored 17 points to lead UConn. ‘‘We were all extremely excited and on a high when we beat Stanford the way we did. We came into this game and we weren’t ready. I don’t think we were ready for how hard Notre Dame was going to come at us. They out-toughed us.’’

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The Huskies (12-1, 0-1 Big East) had a few chances to pull out the win in the final 30 seconds, but in front of a sellout crowd of 10,127, they fell short.

Trailing by 1, freshman star Breanna Stewart had her shot blocked in the lane. The Huskies maintained possession and then after a timeout, Stewart missed a jumper from the top of the key.

Kelly Faris grabbed the rebound to give UConn one more chance, but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis caught the ball in the corner and her wide-open 3 with six seconds left fell off the rim.

The Irish grabbed the loose ball and Skylar Diggins ran out the clock.

‘‘You got the best 3-point shooter in the country with a wide-open three to win it and it doesn’t go in,’’ Auriemma said. ‘‘I’m more upset if the wrong guy took the wrong shot at the wrong time. We came out of timeout and got the shot we wanted and it didn’t go in.’’

The Irish have turned one of the best rivalries in women’s basketball into a one-sided affair lately, winning five of the past six meetings. Diggins, the senior All-American, scored 19 points, hitting big shot after big shot in the second half to lift Notre Dame.

The Irish (12-1, 1-0) ended UConn’s season the past two years by beating the Huskies in the Final Four.

‘‘I think when we play them, there is a lot on the line, whether it is a Big East championship or them being ranked higher than us or in the Final Four,’’ Diggins said. ‘‘This is good for us.’’

With UConn poised to pull away in the second half, Diggins hit back-to-back 3-pointers to keep her team in the game. Later, with the shot clock about to run out, Diggins hit a leaner from the wing.

Finally, with the Irish down by 1 with 49 seconds left, she got fouled on a drive and calmly sank both free throws. They would be the last points of the game.

‘‘I think Skylar has changed things for us,’’ Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. ‘‘She believed we can win and has the confidence and that is contagious.

‘‘It’s great to win when they are ranked No. 1. It’s great for our team, but it’s still Jan. 5. We’re just trying to get better.’’

DePaul 86, Louisville 80 — Anna Martin scored 22 points and the host Blue Demons (12-3, 1-0 Big East) surprised the 11th-ranked Cardinals (12-3, 0-1) and won their sixth straight game.

Purdue 69, Nebraska 66 — Sam Ostarello had 17 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, and the No. 14 Boilermakers (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) held off the No. 25 Cornhuskers (11-4, 1-1) in Lincoln, Neb.

Oklahoma 78, Texas 70 — Sharane Campbell scored 24 points and the No. 17 Sooners (12-2, 2-0 Big 12) were 11 for 17 (65 percent) from 3-point range in their win over the host Longhorns (7-6, 0-2).

BU 45, Hartford 39 — Rashidat Agboola scored a career-high 25 points and the visiting Terriers (12-3, 2-0 America East) beat the Hawks (9-6, 0-2) to win their ninth straight.

Georgetown 79, Providence 64 — Symone Roberts scored 18 points for the host Friars (5-9) but the Hoyas (10-4) broke away from a halftime tie to earn the win in the Big East opener for both teams.

Md.-Baltimore County 54, Maine 50 — Courtney Anderson had 17 points and Corinne Wellington pulled down 15 boards but the visiting Black Bears (1-13, 0-1 America East) couldn’t overcome an 11-point halftime deficit to the Retrievers (5-10, 1-1).

St. Francis (Pa.) 81, Bryant 76 — Naana Ankoma-Mensa posted career highs with 25 points and 22 rebounds but the host Red Flash (6-6, 1-0 Northeast) got 30 points from Alli Williams to hold off the Bulldogs (4-7, 0-1).