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College women's basketball: Notre Dame, UConn reach women’s title game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Behind All-America guard Kayla McBride, the Notre Dame women’s basketball is one game away from perfection.

The Fighting Irish broke open a tightly contested first half with a McBride-led, 35-16 run, and Notre Dame routed Maryland 87-61 in Sunday’s first Women’s Final Four game at the Bridgestone Arena.

McBride scored 28 points on 12-for-21 shooting, and she pulled down seven rebounds as the Irish coasted for much of the second half. Notre Dame (37-0) will face Connecticut (39-0) on Tuesday in a title-game showdown between undefeated teams.

“Kayla’s really hard to guard,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “She can do so many things with the ball, and she had a nice step-back move going early.”

Notre Dame never was threatened in the second half by Maryland, one of its Atlantic Coast Conference rivals. The Terrapins found some momentum when center Alicia DeVaughn hit two free throws and followed with a field goal that cut the Irish’s lead to 54-37 with 16:34 left.

McBride quickly snuffed out any hope that Maryland had of rallying by hitting a 3-point shot from straight away. She then grabbed a defensive rebound, drove the floor and pulled up for a 17-footer that stretched the lead back to 22.

“They were really hard to guard,” Maryland guard Laurin Mincy said. “It seemed like they were shooting it in the ocean tonight. They were making contested shots, they were finishing with contact.”

McBride ended up three points shy of her season high despite playing only 30 minutes.

“I was in a flow,” she said. “In the Final Four as a senior, I was just trying to leave it on the floor.”

Connecticut 75, Stanford 56

Breanna Stewart recorded 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks as the Huskies downed the Cardinal to advance to their second straight NCAA title game.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored all 15 of her points in the second half while Bria Hartley added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists for Connecticut. Stefanie Dolson tallied 10 points and seven boards while Moriah Jefferson contributed 10 points, a game-high five steals and four assists for the top-ranked Huskies, who committed just eight turnovers.

Amber Orrange led the way with 16 points and added five assists for Stanford (33-4), which has lost seven of its last eight meetings with Connecticut.

Connecticut missed 10 of its first 13 shots to fall behind 16-10 before Stewart keyed a 12-2 run to close out the first half and put the Huskies on top 28-24. Connecticut blew open a tight game when Mosqueda-Lewis scored nine points during a 14-0 burst that gave the Huskies a 44-27 lead.