March 13, 1999
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Notre Dame had accurate shooting and defensive pressure on its side, not to mention Sheila McMillen.
McMillen, who scored 15 points, hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie it 55-55 and Notre Dame went on to a 61-57 victory over St. Mary’s in the women’s NCAA tournament West Regional on Saturday.
“I thought that the 3 that Sheila hit from the corner was maybe, and she’s hit a lot of big 3s in her career, one of the biggest,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
McMillen, 3-of-9 from 3-point range, took the ball on an out-of-bounds play and came off a screen.
“I found myself open,” she said. “In that situation, I want to shoot the ball and I was lucky that it went in.”
Ruth Riley led Notre Dame (26-4) with 16 points and seven rebounds and Danielle Green had 12 points, including the free throw that put Notre Dame ahead for good.
Notre Dame won despite hitting only 36 percent of its shots (17-of-47) thanks to effective free-throw shooting and a defensive effort that limited St. Mary’s to 40 percent shooting (23-of-57).
“I was really pleased defensively,” McGraw said.
St. Mary’s, which trailed by 13 points in the first half, took its first lead at 49-46 on a 3-pointer by Stacey Berg.
The Gaels (27-7) were ahead 55-50 before Notre Dame came back in the final two minutes.
“I thought we were very wide-eyed early in the game, but I thought we settled down and executed well,” St. Mary’s coach Kelly Graves said. “I’m proud of the way we came back and thought we had some good looks there at the end.”
After Green gave the Irish the lead, Sherisha Hills hit two free throws to make it 58-55 with 19.2 seconds left.
Tracy Morris scored on a short turnaround jumper to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 58-57 with 4.4 seconds remaining, but Kelly Siemon hit three of four free throws in the closing seconds for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame played without starting point guard Niele Ivey, who is out with a knee injury.