March 26, 2018
SPOKANE, Wash. — For the eighth time in program history, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team is dancing in the Final Four. The No. 1 seeded Irish (33-3) outlasted the No. 2 seeded Ducks (33-5) 84-74 Monday night after a strong defensive performance in the second half.
The Irish dominated the rebounding battle, holding a 51-29 advantage that led to 26 second-chance points. Notre Dame held the high-scoring Oregon offense in check in the second half. The Ducks scored just 28 points in the second half after putting up 46 in the first half.
Notre Dame and UConn are now the only teams in all of NCAA Division I women’s basketball to have appeared in six of the last eight Final Fours.
“So proud of this team, where we came from, what we’ve overcome to get here, over a great Oregon team,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Sabrina Ionescu, just a fantastic player. Did a great job on her in the third quarter, I thought as well as we played defensively. That was the difference in the game. Got them to miss a couple shots, rebounded really well. Jackie Young particularly rebounded well. Kathryn, you expect a senior to be ready to lead your team, she certainly did that today.”
How It Happened
Ogunbowale and Westbeld carried the Irish to a hot start in the opening quarter. The Irish shot 62.5 percent (10-16) from the floor en route to a 22-21 lead after 10 minutes of play. Ogunbowale had seven points and two assists while Westbeld added six points of her own on 3-of-3 shooting from the floor. The Irish had nine assists on 10 shots in the first quarter.
Later down 26-22 in the opening minutes of the second quarter, the Irish spurred off a 9-0 run to take a 31-26 lead. Jessica Shepard produced the first four points to tie the game and Mabrey added the final five with a layup and deep three-pointer to regain the five-point lead for the Irish.
However, the Ducks fought right back and ended the quarter on a 20-9 points differential, taking a 46-40 halftime lead. Shepard led the Irish with 14 points at the half, followed by 10 points from Westbeld.
The Irish quickly turned the halftime deficit into a third quarter advantage thanks to a 15-4 run, including a 13-2 spurt over 2:54 minutes of play. The Irish defense led the charge on the run, holding the Ducks without a field goal for over three minutes.
Their lead grew to 61-55 for the Irish at the end of the third quarter following another strong defensive segment. Notre Dame held Oregon scoreless over the final 2:52 of the quarter and limited the Ducks to just 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from the floor in the quarter.
In the final quarter, the Irish held off one last run from the Ducks and used the free throw line to punch their ticket to the Final Four. The Irish were 11-for-12 from the line in the fourth quarter and 15-for-16 in the second half.
Player of the Game
Kathryn Westbeld scored a team-high 20 points against the Ducks on 9-for-12 shooting from the floor. She also added seven rebounds and three assists to lift the Irish to their sixth Final Four in the last eight years.
The Irish begin the road to Columbus, Ohio, for Friday’s NCAA National Semifinal game against No. 1 UConn at 9:30 pm ET.
- Monday marked the first ever meeting between Notre Dame and Oregon.
- The Irish are now 60-23 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
- Irish are 8-1 all-time in the Elite Eight round and boast the best winning percentage of any team that has appeared in at least five Elite Eights.
- Today’s victory gives Coach McGraw win No. 798 at Notre Dame and No. 886 overall.
- The Irish have advanced to their eighth Final Four. Only UConn and Notre Dame have made six of the last eight Final Fours.
- For the second straight year both Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey are NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team honorees. Also for the second consecutive year, Ogunbowale was named Regional MVP.
- The Irish earned their 11th ranked victory on the year (11-3) with tonight’s win. It also marked their fourth win against an AP top-10 ranked team.
- The Irish enter the Final Four averaging 92.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. They are the only team to score over 80 points in each round.
- The Irish are now 4-1 when trailing their opponent at halftime.
- Notre Dame produced back-to-back games with 20-plus assists at the Spokane Regional.
- Ogunbowale is averaging 25.0 ppg during the NCAA Tournament.
- Westbeld finished one-point shy of her career high with a team best 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
- Young finished one rebound shy of her career high with 13 tonight.
- Oregon, who shot 58.8 percent in the first half, was limited to 28.8 percent shooting in the second half.