Storrs, CT (Sports Network) - Kayla McBride scored a career-high 21 points to
help the fifth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish open Big East play with a
73-72 road victory over No. 1 Connecticut.
Skylar Diggins supplied 19 points for Notre Dame (12-1, 1-0 Big East) and sank the game-winning free throws despite enduring a 4-for-15 shooting performance. Michaela Mabrey had 11 points, while Natalie Achonwa contributed a double- double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Irish have won five of the last six meetings between the teams.
"I think it's great to win anywhere we play. But this is great for our team," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "It builds confidence for our team. It's January 5th, it's not a game that we're going to change a whole lot of things this early in the season. We are still learning and growing and hopefully we'll continue to get better."
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson each posted 17 points and eight rebounds for UConn (12-1, 0-1). Kelly Faris finished with 13 points, 11 boards, seven assists and five steals.
The Huskies suffered their first loss in a conference home opener since Jan. 2, 1988.
Down nine in the first half, UConn fought back and led 60-55 on a Breanna Stewart layup with 11:34 to play. Stewart scored again down low off a feed from Dolson to make it 72-70 with 2:28 remaining.
After Achonwa converted 1-of-2 free throws, UConn had opportunities to expand its lead. Stewart missed two shots, including one 3-point try, and Mosqueda- Lewis also failed to connect from beyond the arc.
Diggins was then fouled on a drive to the basket. She missed the layup but sank both free throws with 49.4 seconds left.
UConn had looks in the waning moments, but Stewart misfired on two jumpers and Mosqueda-Lewis couldn't get a three from the right corner to fall.
"When you play against a really good team one or two plays, or one series up and down the floor sometimes decides the game," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "That can come at the fifteen minute mark, the ten minute mark, down the stretch. We got two really good shots and a great shot at the end of the game. I thought we did a great job coming back from not playing great and them playing awfully well in the first half. They made a lot of great shots in the first half; you look at the stat sheet, it's almost like a mirror image of each other. A play here or a play there decides the game."