UConn's defense stifles Notre Dame in 2013 Final Four

Chris Graythen

The cliché tells us it is difficult to defeat a team three times in one season. Notre Dame did just that against UCONN this season. The fourth proved to be elusive.

The previous three contests between the Connecticut Huskies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish came down to the wire with the Irish emerging victorious. This national semifinal meeting figured to be another one or two possession finish. In reality it turned into a convincing 83-65 UConn victory.

The numbers:

UCONN

Notre Dame

Possessions

76

75

Offensive Efficiency

109

87

eFG Percentage

52

32

FT Rate

34

27

OREB Pct

55

55

Turnover Rate

29

25

Defense. UCONN forced the Irish into a 25% turnover rate. That, coupled with the 32 eFG% (including 18-for-61 for 30% from two point range) mark proved to be the significant difference.

Ball control index. A metric that divides assists plus steals by turnovers. For this game the BCI showed a UCONN advantage, despite that 29 percent TO rate.

BCI

UCONN: 2.33

ND: 1.53

Impressed with UCONN's managing of the game the second half. Leading by ten coming into the last 20 minutes there is a tendency to 'clock watch' and not be aggressive on the offensive end. Thought Geno Auriemma's club did a great job of managing the clock yet finishing the possession with good looks even as the seconds wore down on the shot clock.

A look at the efficiencies (NBA metric) of some of the key players.

Points

Efficiency

Minutes

Eff. Per Min.

Stewart,UCONN

29

33

35

.943

Mosqueda-Lewis,UCONN

16

20

29

.690

Hartley,UCONN

15

10

37

.270

McBride,ND

16

5

38

.132

Diggins, ND

10

10

38

.263

To little surprise, Breanna Stewart was outstanding in efficiency. She shot 10-for-16 from the floor adding 4 blocks and just one turnover. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was 7-for-12 shooting with 6 boards. Bria Hartley struggled from the floor shooting 4-for-13 and committing 6 turnovers.

On the Notre Dame side Kayla McBride led in scoring but the efficiency suffered due to 5-for-20 shooting. Skylar Diggins had a rough final game with 3-for-15 shooting and six turnovers. The Irish standout did add eight assists, three blocks and four steals.

Three final thoughts:

1. UCONN targeted Skylar Diggins on defense. In the past, Notre Dame had other players step up but not tonight.

2. Empty possessions were discussed a great deal. At times the Irish got the stops but came up empty on the offensive end. Granted, there were looks that did not fall but credit must be given to the UCONN defensive effort.

3. The first four. Many times we have discussed the importance of the first four minutes of each half. For UCONN, the key was the last four minutes of the opening half. Trailing 26-25 with 3:22 remaining, the Huskies went on a 14-3 run to take a 39-29 lead into the locker room. A significant closing run that put ND in an unfamiliar position to play catch up the second half.

UCONN, at 34-4, advances to the title game against Louisville in an all Big East championship. Muffet McGraw's Irish end at 35-2. A 30 game win streak snapped and the only losses coming to Baylor and UCONN.

For more on the Final Four, check out our storystream.

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