The Irish lost senior Natalie Achonwa to a torn ACL in the regional final win over Baylor. Notre Dame wore warmup shirts with Achonwa's nickname "Ace" below her No. 11.
The team played inspired basketball in the Final Four win over Maryland where Notre Dame outrebounded the Terps by a record margin. The Irish couldn't muster a similar effort against UConn and it's gigantic front line. Stewart, Dolson and Kiah Stokes dominated the interior. The Huskies outrebounded the Irish 54-31 and held them to a season-low in points.
After the teams traded shots early on, Stewart — who earned outstanding player of the tournament honors for the second straight season — fueled a 16-0 run as the Huskies, who have played stellar defense all season, held the Irish without a point for nearly five minutes. Stewart's lay-in with 11:02 left made it 22-8.
A minute later, Dolson had an acrobatic tip to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for another layup.
The Irish stayed in the first half by hot 3-point shooting by Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd. Trailing 37-25 with 4:09 left in the first half, the pair sparked a 13-6 run, hitting three 3-pointers which brought the Irish faithful to their feet.
UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.
The Huskies closed the door on any Irish comeback scoring 18 of the first 22 points in the second half to put the game away. Stewart and Dolson had 10 points during the burst.
"I'm probably one of the luckiest people in the coaching profession because I get to coach players like Stefanie and Bria" Hartley, Auriemma said, fighting back tears. "Yeah, I get to coach guys like that and that's why we can do what we do."
Dolson had promised President Barack Obama at the White House that the Huskies would be back, and UConn delivered.