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UConn frustrated by missed chances, turnovers in loss to Irish
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) ' Geno Auriemma put his hands behind his head and jumped straight up in the air, grimacing as he watched yet another UConn turnover.
The second-ranked Huskies had trouble handling the ball all game against Notre Dame and their 57-game Big East winning streak slipped away, too.
UConn had a season-high 27 turnovers Saturday and left the Purcell Pavilion frustrated by a near-miss in a game they felt they should secured.
"It's hard to lose a game we put ourselves in a position to win," Auriemma said after the 74-67 overtime loss in which his team didn't make a field goal over the final 3:49 of regulation or the extra period.
"I think that was the worst we have played all year with the ball. ... That's not something we do very often. A lot of it was ball pressure."
Notre Dame's defense, led by Skylar Diggins, had 14 steals and the Irish were able to rally in the second half.
"Our defense late in the game was fantastic," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We did a really good job down the stretch using the clock and getting to free throw line."
UConn (12-2, 2-1) , which had beaten Notre Dame 12 straight times before losing to the Irish in the national semifinals last April, got 25 points from Bria Hartley.
Diggins had 22 points ' 16 in the second half and overtime ' and Natalie Novosel 20 for the Irish (15-1, 3-0)
Connecticut, which hadn't lost a conference game since falling to Rutgers in 2008, had a 61-57 lead and the ball with just under four minutes left in regulation but couldn't hold off the Irish. The Huskies had several chances late to ice the game with a lead but couldn't pull it off.
"We were plus two with a minute to play and we don't finish the game," Auriemma said. "It just shows that we are not ready to win those kind of games. We have too many guys who have not been in that position before."
Diggins shot just 7-for-19 but came up with a big steal near the end of regulation that ended in the tying basket by Kayla McBride with 19 seconds left in the frenzied game that saw 10 ties and 11 lead changes at the green-clad Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won despite shooting just 35.8 percent.
"Frustrating because it happened once at Baylor," Hartley said of the Huskies' only other loss this season. "When you have the ball and are up two, you should be able to win the game."
McBride also had a key basket in overtime and finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Hartley had a driving basket, a free throw and a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 UConn spurt as the Huskies opened up a 47-42 lead with 13 minutes remaining. After a timeout, she caught a long pass and hit another layup and the Huskies had built their lead to seven with 11 minutes to go.
Trailing by eight, the Irish rallied again as Diggins scored five straight points and Devereaux Peters got free for a layup after a mad scramble on the floor for a loose ball. The 9-2 run cut UConn's lead to 55-54.
After a timeout, Diggins sank a 3-pointer to complete the 12-2 run and give the Irish a two-point lead. But UConn responded and Caroline Doty hit a 3-pointer and then made an alert follow of a missed layup, giving the Huskies a 61-57 lead. That turned out to be UConn's final field goal.
"Skylar ignited us. She made a 3, got to the rim, hit some free throws, really came on,' McGraw said.
Mallory drove for a layup after a steal by Peters to narrow it to two with 1:49 remaining. After a missed shot by Doty, Novosel was fouled and made both free throws to tie the game with 1:10 Left.
Tiffany Hayes gave the lead back to the Huskies by hitting a pair from the line with 56 seconds and UConn got the ball back after a missed shot by the Irish. But Diggins made the steal and McBride's ensuing basket tied it at 63.
UConn tried to set up for a final game-winning shot but freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis threw the ball away with four seconds to go ' the Huskies' 24th turnover.
After a timeout, the Irish got the ball to Novosel but her driving shot came up short, sending the game to overtime.
The Huskies also missed two of their first four free throw attempts in overtime, opening the way for the Irish and Novosel, who was 10-for-11 for the game and limped off the court with a second left with a sore left knee.
"We have to make free throws at the end of the game, too. Notre Dame took advantage of the opportunities we gave them," Auriemma said.
"They're one of the top two or three teams in the country for a reason."
The two teams will meet again on Feb. 27 at Connecticut.