DENVER — Notre Dame is back in the national championship thanks to Skylar Diggins’ steady leadership and Brittany Mallory’s clutch shooting.
Diggins scored 19 points, Mallory hit two big 3-pointers in overtime and Irish beat Connecticut 83-75 on Sunday night.
Notre Dame (35-3) also beat the Huskies (33-5) in the semifinals last year, ending the Huskies’ bid for a third consecutive national championship. But Notre Dame stumbled 48 hours later, losing to Texas A&M in the title game in Indianapolis.
Unfinished business has been their mantra all season, and now they get a chance to take care of business Tuesday night against the Baylor-Stanford winner.
The game was tied at 67 after regulation following an 8-2 run by UConn that was fueled by a series of hustle plays from Kelly Faris, who had a steal and a basket and four free throws in the final 90 seconds.
The Huskies, who were led by Stefanie Dolson’s 20 points despite foul trouble, stretched their run to 11-3 when Bria Hartley opened the extra period with a 3-pointer.
The Huskies had the ball again after a missed free throw but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis fired up an off-target
3-pointer early in the shot clock and UConn never recovered.
Diggins tied it with a 3-pointer, and then Mallory hit back-to-back 3s and a free throw to push Notre Dame to a 77-72 lead.
“My teammates just kept talking to me, ‘You’re going to hit a shot. You’re going to hit a shot,’” said Mallory, who had seven of her 11 points in OT. “I was getting a little down on myself and I just happened to keep finding the 3-point line and my teammates found me and they couldn’t have come at a better time.”