What's become the premiere rivalry in women's college basketball -- UConn vs. Notre Dame -- will continue for the foreseeable future. The programs announced Thursday that they've extended their series for four more games, taking it through the 2023-24 season.
"We're looking forward to having Notre Dame on the schedule for four more seasons," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I think it's a game that a lot of college basketball fans have circled on their calendars. This has become one of the top matchups in women's basketball, and I think it's a great opportunity for our fans and future teams to be a part of it."
The teams play this coming season at UConn on Dec. 8 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut. Then as the new extension kicks in, they'll be at Notre Dame in 2020-2021 and 2022-23, and in Connecticut (either Storrs or Hartford) in 2021-22 and 2023-24.
The Huskies hold a 37-13 series lead over the Irish, but Notre Dame has defeated UConn in the Women's Final Four semifinals the past two seasons. Last year, UConn won the regular-season matchup at Notre Dame 89-71 on Dec. 2, but Notre Dame won 81-76 on April 5 in Tampa, Florida.
UConn, which is on a run of 12 consecutive Final Four appearances since 2008, has won 11 NCAA titles. Notre Dame, which has made seven Final Fours in the past nine years, has two NCAA titles.
"Notre Dame and UConn -- it's very competitive and very intense," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think it is the best rivalry in women's college basketball. It's one the fans and teams all look forward to each year."
The Huskies and Irish were Big East rivals for several years before Notre Dame left for the ACC, and UConn joined the newly formed American Athletic Conference. The Huskies will be rejoining the re-aligned Big East, perhaps as soon as 2020-2021. But even in different conferences, the Huskies and Irish have maintained their rivalry.
Both programs also have had a significant impact on the WNBA. All five Irish starters -- No. 1 pick Jackie Young (Las Vegas), No. 5 Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas), No. 11 Brianna Turner (Phoenix), No. 16 Jessica Shepard (Minnesota) and No. 19 Marina Mabrey (Los Angeles) -- were drafted into the league in April, as were Huskies seniors Katie Lou Samuelson (No. 4, Chicago) and Napheesa Collier (No. 6, Minnesota).
Ogunbowale leads all rookies in scoring (16.4 PPG), and Collier is second in scoring (12.1 PPG) and rebounding (6.6 RPG). They are the front-runners for Rookie of the Year honors.