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The Women’s Beat with Bob Joyce

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Championship #1 up for grabs – Sharing isn’t fun, you remember having to do that with brothers and sisters or cousins growing up. And let’s not forget sharing at school back in the day. Well, for the 2nd straight year, Notre Dame has a chance to win the Big East Regular Season Title outright with a home win over UConn Monday Night. Should the Huskies win, not only do the teams SHARE the crown, UConn would then be the Top seed for the Big East Tourney next Weekend in Hartford. But UConn has to win first. Considering the game is in South Bend where the Irish tend to get the the FT line just a bit and it’s Skylar Diggins last ever home game, well, you know the task won’t easy.

For starters, as well as Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis and Stefanie Dolson are playing right now, so are Diggins and Kayla McBride of Notre Dame. The duo’s led their teams in scoring in the January game in Storrs and seem like they’ll do the same in round 2. But the question is, who else steps up in this game ? ND had 5 double figure scorers in the first meeting. None more surprising than freshman Michela Mabrey who went 3/4 from 3 and had 11 points. What has she done since then ? Not much. She didn’t even play against Syracuse and hasn’t had 3 – 3ptrs in a game since the UConn game. But on that day, she stepped up. As did Kelly Faris and Natalie Achonwa, who both had double-doubles for their teams. And there is a question if probable Big East Freshman of the Year Jewell Loyd will even play Monday with concussion like symptoms suffered in the win over Syracuse last Tuesday.

This we know that UConn needs something in the backcourt from Bria Hartley and Caroline Doty. Hartley went 0-11 at USF Saturday and looks totally out of sorts in most aspects of the game right now. Doty’s numbers against Baylor and ND (or should I say lack there of) speak for themselves. Zero pints, 8 reb, 4 a, 5 to and 0/10 fg in last 4 v ND alone. If she’s open and shoots, a timely 3 here or there would go a long way.

ND has won 22 straight where Sklyar Diggins and Kaya McBride have given this Irish team so much confidence all season.  A big reason Diggins will repeat as Player of the Year and Coach Muffett McGraw will likely be the Coach of the Year. Again, it comes down to who makes more big plays and who steps up that will win this game. Perhaps this time if KML has the ball in the corner with  a chance to win it, she’ll make it.

As for the rest of the Big East heading into the final game of the season. St John’s had a chance to solidify it’s NCAA chances and get the last double bye Saturday Night with a win at Seton Hall. This after Syracuse lost an epic 3 OT game to Villanova earlier in the day. They lost 60-51 thanks to 28p and 5 threes from Brittany Morris. Mind you, the Red Storm host a sub regional this season. They may not get there now. And as for the rest of the league, well competition might be good the first two days at the XL Center. But Notre Dame and UConn are clearly the two best teams and should be set for round 3 a week from Tuesday.

Enjoy the game Monday Night to close out the regular season. Our pregame (Deb & I) begins at 6:30 and of course postgame reaction follows. Hope you join us !  :)

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