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That was as close as they could get as Stewart and UConn scored the next seven points to seal the victory. Stewart was the most heralded freshman coming into the season, but struggled through the middle part of the year. But ever since the Big East tournament she’s really been on a roll.

“Every player, especially young players, deal with things differently,” Auriemma said. “And I think when the season ended, it just let the air out of the balloon and she said, ‘Now I just want to play basketball.’ My God, she was amazing tonight.”

The 6-foot-4 budding star had 16 points in the loss to the Irish for the conference title and earned most outstanding player of the Bridgeport regional.

The loss ended an incredible season for Notre Dame and left Diggins without a national championship. The star guard had accomplished nearly everything else in her stellar career at the school, including helping her Irish turn around their rivalry against the Huskies.

Diggins said she spoke with Auriemma after the loss.

“Don’t let this define my career,” she said he told her, and that: “I’ve done more for women’s basketball than some people have done who have won four championships.”

“He just told me I was a good player,” she said. “You respect that coming from such a good coach.”

Notre Dame won a school record 30 straight games with the only other loss coming against Baylor in early December. The Irish won their second straight Big East regular season title and first conference tournament championship. But only Oral Roberts since 1999-2000 has beaten an opponent four times in a season (UMKC), according to STATS LCC.