At the half: Notre Dame 38, UConn 36

By Carl Adamec

STORRS, Conn. — It’s a week late, but this could be the classic showdown women’s basketball fans want.

Kayla McBride has 11 points as No. 5 Notre Dame holds a 38-36 lead over top-ranked UConn at halftime at Gampel Pavilion Saturday.

It’s the first time this season the Huskies (12-0) have trailed this late and they also faced their biggest deficit of the season at eight.

The Irish already have more points than Stanford scored a week ago in its 1-2 matchup with UConn.

A Skylar Diggins basket gave Notre Dame a 13-8 lead. UConn answered with a 10-2 run, including five points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, to move in front. But Notre Dame responded with a 14-4 run with five points by freshman Michaela Mabrey. The Irish’s biggest lead of the half was eight at 34-26 on Mabrey’s second trey. UConn closed the period with a 10-4 burst capped by a Bria Hartley jumper.

Mabrey has eight points off the bench for Notre Dame. Diggins and Natalie Achonwa have seven each. Stefanie Dolson leads UConn with 11 points while Kelly Faris has nine. Mosqueda-Lewis sat out the final 10 minutes of the half with two fouls.

The Irish won their first outright regular season title a season ago, ending UConn’s five-year reign with a win in the finale at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies defeated Notre Dame eight days later in the Big East tournament final, though the Irish got the last word with an 83-75 overtime win over UConn in the NCAA Final Four semifinals in Denver.

UConn faces Notre Dame in South Bend in March.