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April 7, 2013

Notre Dame, UConn women meet again

NEW ORLEANS — Skylar Diggins has accomplished nearly everything she could have imagined in her career at Notre Dame. The only thing missing is a national championship.

To get another chance at that elusive title, Diggins will have to help the Fighting Irish women beat Big East rival Connecticut for an unprecedented fourth straight time this season.

“It would mean a lot,” Diggins said. “I say this over and over — not only to me but to our team and our program, the city of South Bend who have been supporting me my whole life. The opportunity is here now.”

These two teams have had the best rivalry in the sport over the past few years, and tonight’s meeting might be the final chapter with Notre Dame heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Two years ago, the Huskies had won the first three meetings before Notre Dame shocked them in the national semifinals. That started an unprecedented run in which the Irish have taken over the rivalry, winning seven of the last eight meetings.

This year the two schools played three thrilling games, with Notre Dame coming out on top by margins of one point, two points and in triple overtime.

“We came out of each game with ‘Wow, we didn’t play well,”’ said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “We can do a lot better. We learned a lot from each game since they were so close. We don’t have that feeling of we’ve beaten them so easily.”

Diggins agreed, saying the past few games aren’t a factor.

“I don’t think the past three games matter,” Diggins said. “They are a team that when you play against them they can get in your head. When you think of UConn basketball you think of all the championships.”

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