Moore’s career ends with loss to Irish

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The cheers rang in Maya Moore’s ears as she took a seat on the Connecticut bench for the final time. Just 1.1 seconds remained in her college career and the ending was far sadder than she had ever imagined.

For once, everything Moore did for Connecticut wasn’t quite enough.

Notre Dame beat the Huskies 72-63 Sunday night, shattering Moore’s hopes of leading her team to a third straight national championship. And if it was difficult for Moore to get a handle on what had just happened, it’s understandable.

Of the 154 games Connecticut played with Moore in uniform, this was only the fourth the Huskies lost. To think she’ll never play for the Huskies again _ it was hard to comprehend.

“It’s something I haven’t been really thinking about a lot,” Moore said, pausing to brush a tear from her left eye. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

What had sunk in was that Notre Dame, not Moore and the Huskies, will play Texas A&M in the national championship game Tuesday night. Notre Dame had been 0-3 against UConn this season, but won the game that mattered most.

“There’s always positives and negatives out of everything,” she said. “I’m going to have to choose to remember the great things and how fortunate I was to be a part of so many record-breaking seasons, games, whatever it may be.

“It’s just tough because it’s the current taste in my mouth now. I’ll just have to deal with it.”

Moore was her usual brilliant self in scoring 36 points against the Irish, putting up the third-highest total in a national semifinal as Diana Taurasi, a three-peat champion at UConn, watched from the stands. Down the stretch, the four-time All-American and two-time national player of the year scored 16 straight points to keep the Huskies within striking distance.

But Notre Dame got strong games from its own stars, Skylar Diggins (28 points) and Natalie Novosel (22), and answered Moore’s surge to secure its most satisfying victory of the season.

Moore took no consolation in her scoring feat.

“There’s always more you feel like you can do,” she said. “I feel like I could have done more. It’s tough, really, to think about what I did.’

Moore didn’t shoot well early, but caught fire after Notre Dame opened a 59-47 lead, flashing the smooth touch that had carried UConn to so many victories during her career. It was vintage Maya.

During a stretch of a little more than 4 minutes, Moore hit a short pull-up jumper, converted a three-point play, hit a 3-pointer, nailed another jumper and knocked in another 3.

That left the Huskies trailing just 63-60 with 2:24 to go, plenty of time to finish a comeback.

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