CHICAGO – Then there were four. The #1 seeded Notre Dame women’s basketball team punched its ticket to Tampa on Monday night with an 84-68 win over #2 seeded Stanford in the Chicago Regional final. The Fighting Irish will be making their ninth trip to the Final Four.
Regional MVP Arike Ogunbowale poured in 21 points, with a 7-for-7 day from the free-throw line. All-Regional Team honoree Jessica Shepard notched yet another postseason double-double with 11 points and 14 boards.
Jackie Young tallied a game high 25 points, 19 of which came in the second half. She also picked up a double-double with 10 rebounds. Brianna Turner rounded out the double digit scorers with 14 points. Lastly, Marina Mabrey dished out a team best six assists.
“That was unbelievable. First half, could not make a shot. I thought we looked just completely out of sorts, very unlike what we normally look like. Credit to Stanford’s defense. They were hitting the boards hard. They were packing it in. We couldn’t get anything going. And then the second half we looked like ourselves again.,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought that Arike was just phenomenal down the stretch. Jackie Young picked up where Arike left off in the third quarter when she got her fouls, but I thought Abby Prohaska gave us such a huge lift. That momentum really helped turn the game around.”
How It Happened
Notre Dame suffered from a cold shooting start, going 4-of-20 from the field in the first quarter, and trailed Stanford 13-11. After an 0-for-4 start in the second, Prohaska got the offensive board and the putback, which was later followed by back-to-back jumpers from Ogunbowale and Young, garnering a 17-16 lead.
After the second quarter media, Stanford connected on three consecutive three-pointers and ultimately made its last 6-of-8 shots of the half, giving the Cardinal a 33-26 lead. The Irish went 10-of-39 in the half, and were kept off the board for the final 2:42. Ogunbowale led all Irish players with eight points.
Trailing 40-33 at the 5:17 mark in the third, Young, Shepard and Mabrey all contributed toward an Irish 6-0 run in less than a minute. After a Cardinal basket at 2:51, Notre Dame ended the period making seven of its next eight shots, resulting in a 13-4 scoring spree. Young supplied seven of the points, while Turner added four and Prohaska two. As a whole, the Irish shot 12-of-17.
Young kept her hot hand in the fourth, scoring the first two baskets for the Irish, pushing their lead to 56-48. Young, Ogunbowale and Mabrey then strung together a 6-0 run midway through the fourth, extending the lead to 70-56. The Irish then iced the game from the free-throw line to bring the game to its 84-68 final.
- The Irish earned program win No. 998.
- The five Irish starters have now amassed 10,070 combined career points, which stands as the most in both Division I men’s and women’s basketball all-time.
- Notre Dame now boasts 66 NCAA Tournament wins, which surpasses Louisiana Tech for the fourth most all-time.
- The Irish have advanced to their ninth Final Four, which ranks as the fifth most.
- Irish move to 9-1 all-time in the Elite Eight round, which stands as the best winning percentage for any team who’s been to at least five.
- Turner is closing in on 2,000 points → The Texas native scored 14 points on Monday, bringing her career total to 1,990.
- Turner is chasing Ruth Riley’s all-time block record of 370. Turner collected three on Monday, upping her career total to 366.
- With 21 points, Ogunbowale earned her 25th game with 20-plus points, which ties the record she set last season.
- Shepard earned her 17th double-double on the year and ninth over the last 12 games. The 17 ranks second only behind Natalie Achonwa’s 19. Her 32 career double-doubles is tied for fourth all-time.
- Shepard has recorded 21 straight games with double-digit points, tying her career high.
- Jackie Young earned her 12th double-double on the year, which continues to break the Notre Dame record for a guard.
A rivalry will be renewed in Tampa – it’ll be Notre Dame vs UConn in the national semifinal on Friday, April 5, inside Amalie Arena. The two will collide in the second semifinal of the night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.