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Sweet 16 Bound

No. 1-seeded Notre Dame overcomes gritty comeback and downs ninth-seeded Purdue, 88-82, in overtime to advance to the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive year.

There was a history between the two Indiana schools. The Boilermakers held a 14-12 edge in the all-time series, but the Irish won the biggest game between the two when they captured the 2001 national championship after a 68-66 victory over Purdue. And even though they hadn’t squared off since 2012, Notre Dame owned a perfect record in its last seven meetings versus the Boilermakers.

Make it eight…although it wasn’t easy. The Irish (32-3) had a 16-point lead evaporate in the third period as Brianna Turner watched from the bench after suffering a knee injury just before halftime. But Notre Dame withstood the hard-charging effort of the Boilers (23-13) behind the calming effort of Lindsay Allen, the only player who was on the floor for all 45 minutes, who finished with 12 points and eight assists.

In addition to Allen, Marina Mabrey (21 points), Arike Ogunbowale (18) and Jackie Young (16) all had double-digit scores. Turner also had 10 before going down with the injury. Ogunbowale also paced the Irish with nine rebounds, and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch.

Purdue’s Bridget Perry had 22 points while Dominique Oden had 16 and Ae’Rianna had 12. But it was Ashley Morrissette who paced all players with 23 points and added 10 assists.

It was Perry who scored Purdue’s first seven points en route to a 17-13 lead at the end of the first period. By that point, Kathryn Westbeld, who returned to the starting lineup for the Irish after sitting out the first round game as a pre-caution, had four points…and two fouls. With Westbeld on the sideline, Young sparked a 7-0 Irish run in the second period and Notre Dame began to pull ahead. With 48 seconds left in the half, Turner was wide open under the basket, jumped to catch and buckled to the ground holding her knee. She walked off the court with Notre Dame holding a 45-33 advantage.

Despite Turner being out for the rest of the game and Westbeld picking up her third foul with 8:05 left in the third period, the Irish still had a 66-55 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. But Morrissette, who had just as many turnovers in the first half (2) as she did points, willed her team back into the game, scoring more points in the last period (11) then Notre Dame did as a team (8).

Her effort helped pull the Boilers even with the Irish to force overtime, but Notre Dame prevailed. A steal by Mabrey followed by a tough bank shot with just over a minute left in the extra period sparked the Irish. Mabrey also sank two free throws and then Ogunbowale sealed the victory by hitting all four of her shots from the charity stripe.  

“I thought we showed great resilience down the stretch and our youngsters really stepped up,” said Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. “Sophomores (Mabrey and Ogunbowale) making free throws and Jackie Young had a couple of big baskets and big rebounds. Just really happy with the youth on our team. They sure didn’t play like freshmen and sophomores tonight, and we needed every single thing they did.”

Notre Dame will head to Lexington, Kentucky for a Mar. 24 matchup versus No. 5-seeded Ohio State, a 82-68 winner over fourth-seeded Kentucky. The Buckeyes are coached by former Irish assistant coach Kevin McGuff. Turner’s availability for the Ohio State game was unknown, although she emerged from the Irish locker room after halftime without ice or a brace on the injured knee.


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