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Women’s Basketball: Moore to write final chapter of legacy

Laura Myers | Thursday, March 3, 2011

In the past 15 weeks, Maya Moore has been named Big East player of the week a record eight times.

In the past year, she has earned the Wade Trophy for player of the year, shared the Honda-Broderick cup that honors the best female college athlete, won an ESPY for best female college athlete, was named a consensus All-American and an Academic All-American, and played on Team USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.

In the past four years, Moore’s awards and records are too numerous to list. But her career can be summed up like this: 143 wins in 146 total games, including three Big East championships and two national titles. The most prolific offensive player in Connecticut women’s basketball history.

And more than any other Big East team, Notre Dame has been there to witness it happen.

If the Irish and Huskies both play their way into the finals of the Big East tournament this week, it will mark the eighth time that the two teams have played each other since Moore began her career.

After the latest of these matches, a game then-No. 2 Connecticut won 78-57 on Feb. 19, a reporter asked Irish coach Muffet McGraw if Moore is the best player she had ever seen.

“Oh yes,” McGraw responded. “Easily the best player in the country.”

Moore leads the conference in scoring with 23.4 points per game and is fifth in rebounding with 7.8 points per game. In her 146 career games, she has failed to score in double figures four times. There is not a 2011 statistical category in which she is not among the top 15 in the Big East.

On Feb. 19, McGraw said Moore played “like a human,” with a stat line of 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

In seven games against Notre Dame in her career, Moore has averaged nearly 18 points per game. As a freshman making her first trip to Notre Dame on Jan. 27, 2008, Moore scored Connecticut’s first 15 points in an eventual 81-64 victory. As a senior, in her third and final appearance at the Purcell Pavilion, Moore scored 31 in Notre Dame’s 79-76 loss on Jan 8.

Monday was Moore’s senior night, and before No. 1 Connecticut clinched its regular-season Big East title with an 82-47 win over Syracuse, her jersey joined those of

Connecticut greats Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Rebecca Lobo and Tina Charles in Connecticut’s Ring of Honor.

It isn’t her last time playing in Connecticut, though. The Big East tournament is held in Hartford, and the Huskies will most likely play at their own arena, the Gample Pavilion in Storrs, for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

When the Big East moved to a 16-game conference schedule two years ago, the math worked out so that each team would have to face one other team twice. For the sake of competition and television ratings, among other factors, the Irish and Huskies were put together for two games a year.

For that reason, Notre Dame faced the Huskies three times in 2010, including a loss in the Big East semifinals. This year, the two could meet in the finals for their third game of the year.

After Monday’s game, Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman predicted what would happen in Moore’s fourth Big East tournament.

“During tournament play I think it comes down to who has the best player, and [Huskies coach] Geno [Auriemma] has the best player,” he said. “When you get in to these tournament games there are going to be some close games and nobody is going to be able to stop Maya.”