Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2014 Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 101 of 126

BY LOU SOMOGYI H ave you ever come across that one individual who, no matter what extraordinary feats you may achieve, usually finds a way to one-up you? If you have a 3.95 grade-point av- erage, he gets a 4.0. If you purchase your dream home by the bay, he finds a more prominent one overlooking the ocean. If you become president of your company, he becomes the CEO. Welcome to world of Notre Dame women's basketball the past four years. Similar to the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills making NFL history by becoming the first, and still lone, franchise in league history to reach four consecutive Su- per Bowls — but also losing them all — head coach Muffet McGraw and her Fighting Irish have dealt with the agony of excellence by reaching four straight Final Fours, but were unable to come away with the grand prize while meeting a juggernaut. Notre Dame's amazing 37-0 run to the NCAA Tournament champion- ship game ended April 8 in Nashville, Tenn., with a 79-58 loss to the Connecti- cut Huskies, the defending national champs who were No. 1 all year and finished 40-0. The Fighting Irish are an extraordi- nary 67-2 in their last 69 games, but both defeats came to the Huskies, 83-65 in last year 's Final Four despite go- ing 3-0 against them in their first three meetings of the season, and then this season with their top frontcourt player, senior Natalie Achonwa, sidelined with a torn ACL incurred a week earlier while defeating No. 5 Baylor. "It's hard right now to remember what a great season this was," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said afterwards. "But I think that's what we need to reflect back and think about, getting here. "Tonight's game was incredibly dis- appointing for all of us, in particular the seniors. I know how much they wanted it. And I wanted it for them." The margin of error against UConn was going to be thin no matter what, but it was virtually zero with Achon- wa's injury. The primary inside presence for Notre Dame in its perimeter-oriented and sometimes four-guard Princeton/ motion offense, Achonwa averaged 20.5 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting better than 70 percent from the floor in Notre Dame's first four NCAA Tournament victories prior to her injury. Although any national title aspira- tions seemed crumpled with Achon- SECOND to ONE Another superb year ends in bridesmaid role

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