Brittany Mallory celebrates after a play in front of Kelly Faris during Notre Dame's overtime win. (Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)
DENVER, Colo. - Brittany Mallory started off the 2012 NCAA women's basketball tournament with a bang. 53 seconds into the contest with Liberty on March 18, Mallory sunk a three to put the Fighting Irish up 6-0 before the team went on to win 74-43.
She went on to miss her next 14 attempts from beyond the arc spanning 201 minutes and 30 seconds of game time.
But on Sunday in Denver, with the game tied at 70 apiece in overtime of the national semifinals with Connecticut, Mallory pulled down a defensive rebound. As Notre Dame set up their offense, Devereaux Peters passed her the ball and Mallory's 15th attempt found its mark to untie the game for the last time of the night.
Mallory wasn't done from downtown, though. Notre Dame's next offensive possession saw the Irish up one. Point guard Skylar Diggins turned the ball over to UConn's Tiffany Hayes. Diggins raced down the court just in time to block a Bria Hartley layup attempt and get the rebound off the swat. Diggins took seven seconds to streak back down the court, pass to Mallory and see the splash of No. 16 release a roar from the raucous Notre Dame crowd.
A game that I never really expected to go into overtime after the Irish built a 6-point lead with under three minutes to play was sealed with the swish of the ball going through the net off the arc from Mallory.
"I was thinking about it a little bit in regulation, not hitting the 3, and it's been a while," Mallory started with a smile. "My whole team was telling me keep shooting, they're going to fall, they're going to fall.
"And Sky hit me for the pass and I lined up, I just had - took a deep breath and let it go and was thinking to myself this one's going in. And finally they both went in and I was so happy. I couldn't believe it. I was so happy."
Peters chimed in, "She almost cried."
"I was so excited," confirmed Mallory.
"I told Brit at the end of regulation: Brit, I'm going to keep throwing it to you, so keep spotting up," Diggins explained the sequence. "She knocked it down."
Indeed she did.
With 1:30 left in overtime, Mallory made it a two-possession game that Geno Auriemma and the Huskies couldn't overcome. Their end-of-regulation comeback was their last big run of the night and UConn was outscored 16-8 in the extra period of play to send the Irish back to the championship game for the second consecutive season.
"We put ourselves in the position to win the game. That last two minutes, minute and a half of regulation was pretty amazing," Auriemma said of the initial comeback. "They just made some huge shots. We took a chance on making it difficult. But Brittany Mallory made two huge shots, and that's who we wanted to shoot the ball.
"And, God bless her, she stepped up and made shots."
The Irish live to see another day in Denver, and have earned a date to a rematch with Baylor for the title. By the way, Mallory was 0-for-5 from 3-point range in their 94-81 loss in Waco in their fourth game of the season. But we now know that all it takes is just one good look for a shooter to turn a game around on a dime. Mallory is now 3-for-17 from long range in the tournament, but the last two treys came at the perfect time for the Irish.
We'll see on Tuesday if the time is right to cut down the nets for Notre Dame.
For more on the 2012 NCAA women's basketball tournament, check out our "NCAA Tournament 2012" section.