STORRS, Conn. — Kayla McBride scored 21 points and Skylar Diggins added 19 to help No. 5 Notre Dame upset top-ranked Connecticut 73-72 on Saturday in the Big East conference opener for both teams.
Trailing 73-72 with 6 seconds left, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis missed a 3-pointer from the corner and the Irish (12-1, 1-0 Big East) got the ensuing rebound and ran out the clock as Diggins threw the ball into the air at the final buzzer.
The Irish have had the Huskies’ number the past few years, winning five of the past six meetings, including two in the Final Four the past two seasons.
Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson each scored 17 points to lead UConn (12-1, 0-1).
The rivalry, which UConn leads 29-9, has grown into one of the biggest in women’s college basketball.
Even with three starters gone from last season’s team, Notre Dame was too much in front of a sellout crowd of 10,167.
UConn had three chances in the final 30 seconds to win the game. 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 giving UConn one more chance, but Mosqueda-Lewis caught the ball in the corner and was wide open before her 3 fell off the rim.
Diggins had given the Irish a one-point lead, hitting two free throws with 49 seconds left in the back and forth affair.
UConn trailed by two at the half and took a 48-44 lead on Dolson’s layup with 16:18 left in the game. The Huskies led 63-60 with 8 minutes left before Notre Dame scored five quick points. Neither could get more than a two-point lead the rest of the way.
Stewart, the high school player of the year last season, scored all 10 of her points in the second half after missing her first five shots. She also had six blocks and nine rebounds.
The Irish won both regular-season meetings last year, before being blown out in the Big East championship game. They won the decisive meeting in the Final Four, 83-75, in overtime.
Notre Dame’s lone defeat this season came at home to No. 2 Baylor, 73-61, on Dec. 5.
The two teams, who have played 12 times over the past four seasons, will play again in South Bend on March 4, in the final game of the regular season.
It’s not certain if the two teams will play again after Notre Dame leaves for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
UConn led 18-15 midway through the first half before Notre Dame went on a 12-2 run sparked by McBride. She had back-to-back jumpers. Michaela Mabrey hit a 3-pointer and Natalie Achonwa a free throw to cap the burst.
Mabrey’s second 3-pointer of the half gave the Irish a 34-26 lead with 5 minutes left in the half before UConn closed with a 12-4 burst to make it 38-36 at the break.