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NCAA Women's Final Four 2011: Maya Moore And UConn Fall 72-63 To Notre Dame

Connecticut Huskies star Maya Moore didn't even appear to know what to do as the clock ran down on her collegiate career with a 72-63 loss.

With a second left on the clock with a Connecticut loss all but final, Moore tried to walk distractedly to the free throw line in a situation that has been so foreign to her over the past two years of her career: losing her final game of the season.

This was simply not supposed to happen.

"You look at the bracket and I'm pretty sure nobody in America had Notre Dame playing Texas A&M in the final," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. "So I think we definitely earned it."

And if Connecticut was not a shoo-in this year, then at the very least one would have probably felt beyond safe in assuming prior to this night that either Connecticut or the Stanford Cardinal would have ended up in the National Championship game. That we have witnessed two women's basketball powers fall in a night is something of a ground-breaking event in a sport that everyone says is so pre-determined that it's almost boring.

"I think what happened is what happens in all - not all - what happens in a lot of NCAA tournaments: the team that plays better that night wins," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the game. "Not the team that everybody puts on the board that is supposed to win."

But before we dwell on that further, the key to the game was highlighted by M. Robinson of SBN's Swish Appeal and worth looking back on.

Can Notre Dame pull off the upset over Connecticut? - Swish Appeal
Now mind you, Connecticut has 3-time Wade Trophy winner for National Player of the Year in Moore. And many would say that she’s the key to this game if Notre Dame is going to have a "prayer" in beating Connecticut. But I disagree, because there is not a scheme or defense that can stop probably the strongest-willed female competitor that we’ve ever seen; her will is reminiscent of the great Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. In the three games this year against Notre Dame, she’s averaged, 22 points and 7 rebounds. So what is the key for Notre Dame? If they are going to pull off the upset, their press and most importantly, containing Bria Hartley will be paramount.

UConn point guard Bria Hartley ended up with 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting and just four in the second half - it was as though Notre Dame's defense created an obscene number of turnovers, but they did what they had to to limit UConn, while shooting 55.6 percent in the second half themselves.

It was a simply outstanding performance by Notre Dame led by Skylar Diggins' 28 points and Natalie Novosel's 22 on 8-for-13 shooting. In her final game, Moore was as advertised: 36 points, eight rebounds, and four steals.