By Carl Adamec
NEW ORLEANS — The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team will play for the national championship.
Would you have believed it a month ago?
Freshman Breanna Stewart had a career high 29 points as the Huskies walloped Notre Dame 83-65 in a NCAA Final Four semifinal game at sold-out New Orleans Arena Sunday night.
The Huskies (34-4) will face Big East rival Louisville Tuesday night in a rematch of the 2009 final. The Cardinals (29-8) advanced with a 64-57 come-from-behind win over California.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 16 points, Bria Hartley 15 off the bench, and Kelly Faris 10 for UConn, which beat Notre Dame for the first time in four meetings this season, the first time in four NCAA semifinal meetings, and the second time in the last nine meetings.
UConn closed the first half with 14-3 run to take a 39-29 lead. It was 59-46 when Notre Dame (35-2) went on a 9-2 run to close within six. But a Stefanie Dolson free throw, a hoop by Hartley, and two free throws by Stewart made it a 13-point game again. UConn sank its last 13 free throws to clinch it.
Kayla McBride had 16 points and Skylar Diggins 10 for the Irish, who had a 30-game winning streak snapped. But the All-American backcourt was just 8-for-35 from the floor.
UConn defeated Louisville 72-58 at the XL Center in Hartford on Jan. 15