Women's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Breakdown

Notre Dame Women's College Basketball

2014 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Breakdown


#1 Connecticut vs. #1 Notre Dame (Nashville, Tennessee)

This is the matchup everyone in women’s college basketball has been waiting for…two unbeaten teams and clearly the best overall matchup in the sport between Connecticut and Notre Dame. These teams can play fast, play a slowdown game, they can beat you from the outside, pound the ball inside and are not afraid to attack each other when the chance allows.

The Huskies punched their ticket to the title game by pulling away in the second half against Stanford in a 75-56 victory on Sunday night. The Cardinal took things to Connecticut a little bit in the first half. Lili Thompson shot well enough to keep Stanford within striking distance being down 28-24 at the half. However, the Huskies in the second half imposed their will as they outscored the Cardinal 47-32 in the second half. Breanna Stewart led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored all of her 15 points in the decisive second half as well for the Huskies. Another big difference maker offensively as a whole for Connecticut was the fact that they shot 60.7 percent from the floor in the second half, while keeping Stanford under 40 percent from the floor on the defensive side of the court.

The Fighting Irish overcame the loss of Natalie Achonwa in style as they destroyed Maryland 87-61 in the first national semifinal of the day. Senior guard Kayla McBride was absolutely electric for Notre Dame, which is exactly what they needed. She scored 28 points to lead the way. McBride was also excellent rebounding wise, gathering seven rebounds as part of a 50-21 annihilation of the Terrapins on the glass. Also, Freshman Taya Reimer held up nicely against Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas. Reimer and the rest of the Fighting Irish defense limited Thomas to just 14 points and six rebounds. Thus, with locking down the inside game of the Terrapins, it allowed Notre Dame to have their way in the backcourt all game long. Offensively, as a whole, the efficiency of the Fighting Irish was outstanding as they shot over 50 percent from the floor and had 15 assists on 32 made field goals in the contest. Another striking element of the game was just the overall sense of urgency displayed by Notre Dame. You could tell early on that this team without Achonwa was a team dead set on getting to the national championship game to get their shot at the Huskies.

This matchup between Connecticut and Notre Dame has the potential to be a game changer for women’s college basketball. In order for the Huskies to win, they need to come out of the gates flying in the first half and not let the Fighting Irish have any hope. If they let them hang around deeper in the second half then they will be flirting with fire. Notre Dame has the arsenal to find a way to get a victory. Also, the inside presence of Stefanie Dolson has to come to the forefront to exploit Taya Reimer’s inexperience in the post. It would seem that the Huskies might try to test her in the first few possessions. They will compliment this by getting Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis in the flow early to keep the Fighting Irish off balance. Notre Dame’s keys are pretty simple. They need to attack like they did against Maryland, especially on the glass, and put the ball in Kayla McBride’s hands and let her go to work to ignite the offense and get everyone else going. In the end, Connecticut is going to have just enough to survive the Fighting Irish, but I would not be shocked whatsoever if Notre Dame got it done on Tuesday night.


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