STORRS, Conn. — In one of most coveted rivalry UConn dominated Notre Dame 81-57 on Sunday at Gampel Pavilion in front of 10,167.
The Huskies are 37-13 all-time against the Irish. This the first time since Jan 27, 2007, that Connecticut has faced an unranked Notre Dame team
Megan Walker has been playing like an All-American from the start of the season and really stepped up as a team leader for the Huskies.
The junior had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists against the Irish and 29 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds Thursday in a 92-78 victory over Seton Hall, earning espnW national player of the week accolades.
“Going into the season, I think she knew [scoring] was going to be one of her biggest jobs,” Dangerfield said of the flourishing Walker.
Early in the game, the Huskies moved the ball down low to establish Olivia Nelson-Ododa on the blocks and you could tell this strategy would be a challeged for the Irish. The first half the Huskies scored 52 points-its highest total through 20 minutes this young season.
Walker made it her business to hit the boards harder this season which was something she knew that was lacking in her game. She had just two rebounds in the Huskies’ first six games, but she had seven combined in the previous two. Coach Geno Auriemma expressed to Walker that they needed more bodies hitting the boards if they wanted to be successful this season.
UConn had 16 offensive boards on Sunday, and they outrebounded the Irish 48-32 overall. Going hard on the boards proved to work out the Huskies with 21-second chance points.
Walker grew up quickly and handle all the pressure since Crystal Dangerfield been out with back spasm.
Connecticut never trailed, as Kyla Irwin hit the Huskies’ first shot of the game from the top of the key before the team jumped out to a 12-2 lead that included seven quick points from Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Though the Irish pulled within six on a pair of baskets off Dangerfield turnovers in the backcourt, the Huskies outscored them 17-7 to close the quarter. An 18-0 run that spanned the end of the second quarter and the start of the third brought UConn’s lead into the 30s, and the Huskies led by as much as 34 points midway through the third.
“A lot of times when you play Notre Dame, you’re trying to figure out how to keep them from scoring 100 because they have so many good offensive players,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “This year, with the situation that they find themselves in, we wanted to speed the game up. We wanted to make the game really, really fast, and we wanted to see if they could keep up with us scoring-wise.
Notre Dame Katlyn Gilbert finished the contest with 15 points and Marta Sniezek chipped in 14 points along with 6 assists and 4 steals.