Two nights after working together to tally 29 assists on 34 buckets in its first-round win, Notre Dame put its teamwork on display again on Monday night in putting down Indiana to advance to the Sweet 16.
In the first half, Irish junior point guard Lindsay Allen was a red-hot 8-of-10 from the field for 18 points. But then it was senior Madison Cable and sophomore Brianna Turner who took over in the second half with 14 points each to piece together the 87-70 win. In addition to Allen, who finished with 22 points and seven assists, Turner (18 points to go with 10 rebounds), Cable (16) and Marina Mabrey (15) were the four players who had double-digit scoring efforts for the Irish.
Notre Dame (33-1) will square off with 4th-seeded Stanford in the Lexington Regional semifinal on Mar. 25.
“Lindsay Allen took over the offense in the first half, and then Bri (Turner) and Maddie (Cable) finished it up in the second half,” said Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. “Just great teamwork.
“I think (Turner puts a lot of pressure on herself and she wants to play well every possession. (But) I think she relaxed a little bit in the second half after watching Lindsay and Madison get some points. She realized she didn’t have to do it all by herself. You’d think she had a bad game, but she scored 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and one turnover…not a bad day at the office.”
The Hooisers kept it close throughout much of the first half, particular on the three-point shooting of junior guard Karlee McBride. The younger sister of former Irish standout Kayla connected on four of her five attempts from beyond the arc. But then in front of the Purcell Pavilion crowd the Irish went on a 15-2 run led by Allen, who scored the final five buckets of the half to give Notre Dame a 47-37 advantage.
“We knew that (Allen) had a short, mid-range game,” said Indiana head coach Teri Moren. “Then she got hot, and she was feeling confident. We tried to switch (defenders) on her but she still gets a shot off and knocks it down. Again, it’s a great player making great plays. I thought she played a great first half.”
With less than four minutes left in the third quarter, however, the Hoosiers had cut Notre Dame’s lead to 56-54. Allen then scored on a layup and added another quick two after stealing an in-bounds pass to give the Irish a 60-54 cushion. By then Turner and Cable had started to find their rhythm. With 7:15 left in the final quarter, Indiana’s Jenn Anderson committed an offensive foul and was subsequently hit with a technical foul. Two free throws by Cable put the Irish ahead 80-60, and Notre Dame maintained a healthy lead en route to the victory.
“They’re a good team, and I think they were playing really hard,” Cable said. “They came into the game, and they weren’t really afraid. They made a couple of runs, but I think we finally ended that. (We) went on a run and never looked back.”
Indiana’s McBride and Alexis Gassion each paced the Hoosiers with 17 points, while Amanda Cahill, Tyra Buss and Kym Roster each added 10. Point guard Buss averages almost 19 points per game for Indiana, but was held in check and frustrated all night. She had seven points at halftime, and scored a trey with 4.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter when the game had already been decided.
“I really thought we did a great job Buss,” McGraw said. “She is really a terrific player. We were trying to keep her off the free-throw line, that was our goal for the game. We had a lot of different people on her in order to wear her down, and I thought we were able to do that. I was particularly pleased that we didn’t give up a three in the second half until the last shot at the buzzer. I thought defensively we really stepped up.”