Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Head West in Hopes of Spokane Regional Title

March 22, 2018

NCAA Spokane Regional
2018 Irish NCAA Central: Click Here
Where: Spokane, Wash. | Spokane Arena
Sweet 16: vs No. 4 Texas A&M (26-9)
When: Saturday, March 24 | 4 pm ET, 1 pm PT
Elite Eight: vs No. 2 Oregon (32-4) or No. 11 Central Michigan (30-4)
When: Monday, March 26 | 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT
Watch: ESPN – both games | Dave Pasch, LaChina Robinson, Molly McGrath
Listen: Pulse FM 96.9 / 92.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP)
Purchase online
Notes: Notre Dame | Texas A&M | Oregon | Central Michigan
Social: @NDWBB | #GoIrish
Band Send-offs: Saturday at 10:45 am PT at Davenport Hotel (10 South Post St. in Spokane)
Monday at 3:45 pm PT at Davenport Hotel
ND Club of Spokane: For a schedule of events, click here

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 1 seeded University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team is just two wins away from a return trip to the Final Four, but in order to book their ticket to Columbus, the Irish (31-3) will first have to win the Spokane Regional. Standing in their path in the Sweet 16 round is No. 4 seeded Texas A&M (26-9).

The two sides will clash inside Spokane Arena on Saturday, March 24, at 4 p.m. ET, live on ESPN. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.

If victorious, the Irish head to the Spokane Regional title game taking place on Monday, March 26, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Notre Dame would then play the winner between No. 2 Oregon and No. 11 Central Michigan.

This weekend, Notre Dame will be competing in their 16th Sweet 16. In fact, the Irish are one of four schools to make the last nine straight Sweet 16s, joining UConn, Stanford and Baylor.

The Irish have reached eight Elite Eights all-time, with Notre Dame, Baylor and UConn being the only teams to reach the Elite Eight round six times in the last seven years. Yet, the Irish have been more successful than any other regularly-appearing school at that stage, as their .875 winning percentage (7-1) is the best of any program to play in at least five Elite Eights.

The Irish partied like it was 1999 in the First Round vs CSUN, as three different scorers finished with 20-plus points: Arike Ogunbowale (30), Jessica Shepard (24) and Marina Mabrey (23). The last time Notre Dame had three players over 20 points in the same game: Danielle Green (28), Sheila McMillen (26) and Ruth Riley (23) vs. West Virginia, 1/7/99.

However, the Irish didn’t stop there. In the Second Round vs Villanova, Shepard (25), Ogunbowale (24) and this time Jackie Young (24), achieved the feat yet again. It marked the first time in program history in which Notre Dame had three 20-point scorers in back-to-back games. Yet, note that the ’98-99 squad was the first to do it twice in the same season.

Three 20-Point Scorers in Same Game in School History
1. vs Providence – 2/16/97
2. vs Illinois – 11/24/98
3. vs West Virginia – 1/7/99
4. vs CSUN – 3/16/18
5. vs Villanova – 3/18/18

Both Jessica Shepard and Arike Ogunbowale are rolling into the Sweet 16 on the best stretches of their respective careers. Shepard enters Saturday’s contest with four straight double-doubles. Keep in mind, the last Irish player who earned four straight was Jacqueline Batteast back in January of 2004. If Shepard was to secure a fifth straight on Saturday, it would mark the first time since Batteast in January of 2002.

In the said four-game span, Shepard has averaged 10.0 rebounds and 22.3 points on 68.6 percent shooting (35-of-51 FG). Overall, Shepard is up to 13 double-doubles on the year, which ranks as the fifth most in a single season at Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, Ogunbowale continues to do Ogunbowale things, entering Saturday’s Sweet 16 with four straight games with 20-plus points, bringing her Notre Dame single-season record total to 23 20-point games.

In the four-game stretch, the junior has averaged 23.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting (37-of-74 FG), including a 6-for-15 clip from three (.400). Ogunbowale is also averaging 6.0 rebounds in that span.

Tied at 45-all at the half in Notre Dame’s second round matchup vs Villanova, the Irish “broke glass in case of emergency” and called upon Kat Westbeld. The senior, who injured her ankle after three minutes of play vs CSUN in the first round, and who was doubtful for Villanova, started the second half and ignited a spark within the Irish. Notre Dame went on to outscore the Wildcats, 53-27, in the second half. Villanova, who was 10-of-15 from three in the first half, went 0-for-5 in the second.

The hero of the game, Westbeld, finished +30 in plus-minus (49-19) and received a standing ovation from the crowd in her final game inside Purcell Pavilion.

For the third straight year, Notre Dame boasts three WBCA All-America Regional Finalists. Ogunbowale, Shepard and Mabrey join 49 other individuals up for the 10-player WBCA All-America Team, which will be announced at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 29. Notre Dame joins Baylor, Mississippi State and UConn with three or more Regional Finalists.

Notre Dame did more than advance to Spokane, recording quite the offensive display over the first two rounds. In fact, Notre Dame’s 197 combined points were the second most, behind UConn’s 211.

In Notre Dame’s, 99-81, defeat over CSUN in the first round, the Irish tied the program record for most points in an NCAA game. Meanwhile, their 40 made field goals set a new program NCAA record. The Irish also tied their season high mark in assists with 28, which marked the second most for an NCAA game. Lastly, the team’s nine treys were the third most in an NCAA game.