Notre Dame, UConn set date to renew storied women's basketball rivalry

CURT RALLO
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame officials have confirmed that the storied women’s basketball rivalry between the Fighting Irish and Connecticut will be renewed next season, starting on Saturday, Dec. 6, with a game in South Bend. No date has been set for a game the following season in Connecticut.

Notre Dame’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference after last season, and Connecticut’s transition into the American Athletic Conference ended the series. UConn and Notre Dame are ranked 1 and 2, respectively, in the national polls and are the only two unbeaten teams in women’s basketball this season.

Connecticut leads the series against Notre Dame, 30-11. But Notre Dame has had the better of it in recent seasons, beating the Huskies seven times in an eight-game stretch that ended last season in the Final Four. There, UConn eliminated Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament semis, 83-65.

Highlights in Notre Dame’s run included winning last season’s Big East Tournament title – the first time in program history – on Connecticut’s home court in Hartford. Notre Dame won the game, 61-59, on a last-season layup by Natalie Achonwa after a steal, drive and dish by Skylar Diggins.

The Irish beat Connecticut three times last season, including a one-point thriller, 73-72, in Storrs, Conn., and, 96-87, in triple overtime in South Bend.

Putting the series back together has been contentious at times. Notre Dame reached out to the Huskies to play a regular-season game this season, but Connecticut officials said that their schedule was full. Connecticut then claimed that Notre Dame officials weren’t responding to its offer to renew the series, a claim that Notre Dame officials denied.

Breanna Stewart (left) and Natalie Achonwa were part of Notre Dame's most recent meeting with UConn, in last year's NCAA women's basketball Final Four. The two teams have agreed to play next season, Dec. 6 at South Bend. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)