How has Notre Dame suddenly sapped UConn's super powers?
"I don't know if being dominated by one particular team is the biggest issue right now," Lobo said after the Irish beat UConn for the seventh time in their past eight meetings. "I think not being able to win close games is more significant [for UConn].
"You don't know how to win close games until you have done it. As much as [Geno Auriemma] has put the team into that position in practice, and he always does, you need to believe you can win [in those circumstances]."
What's certain now is that Baylor and Notre Dame have handled UConn in crunch time over the past two seasons. Consider that eight of UConn's past nine losses have come to Baylor and Notre Dame. The Huskies have won 61 of their other 62, losing only to St. John's on senior night in 2012.
More to the point, UConn has been in position to win all eight games with one pass here, one free throw there or one defensive stop. UConn must now dig its way out.
"At some point, you do it by believing in yourself," Lobo said. "So, I don't think it is so much Notre Dame, it's more that these [losses] have all been close games. They need to believe they can [win] and figure out how to do it."
On Tuesday night, after trailing 39-28 with 11:06 to play, UConn rallied behind freshman Breanna Stewart and had the ball under their basket with 18 seconds left and the score tied at 59. And then, the plan slowly fell apart.
Kelly Faris' inbounds pass to Stewart required a one-handed catch along the baseline, immediately altering the balance.
Instead of calling timeout to regroup, Auriemma allowed the play to continue. Looking to kill more time, Stewart gave the ball back to Faris, who drove the baseline before passing to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who was off-balance and close to falling out of bounds in the opposite corner. Mosqueda-Lewis attempted to loop a pass to the top of the key to Bria Hartley. But Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins was right there and intercepted the pass.
Diggins sprinted up the floor as UConn three times tried to foul. Alongside her was center Natalie Achonwa. Diggins fed the post and Achonwa scored with 1.8 seconds to play to again beat UConn.
"When you play a conference team, it tends to expose some things about you." Lobo said. "Teams take away each other's strengths. Notre Dame didn't allow a three-pointer [UConn was 0-for-5]. Notre Dame didn't get to the free throw line [as much as in previous games, but went 6-for-6].
"At that point, you need a guard to take over. And right now, Connecticut needs a guard who can do that."
At guard, Faris played 40 minutes scoring just four points with three assists and four turnovers. Hartley played 32 minutes and scored nine points with six turnovers; Moriah Jefferson played five minutes and Caroline Doty didn't play.
The Huskies (29-4) are not done. An at-large bid will pave the path to a 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament. UConn will likely earn a No. 1 regional seed for the seventh straight year and then two wins at Gampel Pavilion and two more at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena will lead it to a sixth straight Final Four.
The Huskies could face Notre Dame in the semifinals and Baylor in the championship in New Orleans.
"I think history has shown that what happens during the regular season doesn't necessarily mean that's what is going to happen in the postseason," Auriemma said. "There is a lot of basketball to be played before there is a chance for another UConn-Notre Dame game."
At some point, Auriemma will need to convince his team that bad memories can give way to new opportunities. It's the key to UConn's success from here on.
"At this point, this program is about how you respond and that's what [Auriemma] teaches us how to do," Faris said. "Unfortunately, we haven't responded the way we need to, the way the program is accustomed to.
"That is why we are sitting here right now. Had we responded the way we needed, we would be on the [winning side]. So this is our last chance to respond in the right way. This is our last opportunity to step up and make something of the season."