After an early exit in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame basketball is looking for the reason they fell short to Stanford.
Many believe that the loss came from the Fighting Irish missing star forward, Brianna Turner. But even with the junior, Notre Dame wouldn’t have had much better luck with the dominant performance Stanford had from the beginning.
With the performance Brittany McPhee had in this Elite Eight matchup, 27 points, five rebounds, four assists, and five three-pointers, Stanford was a team led by a player no one could stop. Add Karlie Samuelson and Alanna Smith who had 15 points each, and the Cardinals had everything they needed to top Notre Dame.
Brianna Turner would’ve helped the Fighting Irish, but when you have players performing as well as these three, it wouldn’t have made enough difference to give Notre Dame the win. Despite only a one point loss, you need players to stop Stanford’s hot hands before you can focus on outscoring them.
Now, saying Turner wouldn’t have helped is a massive understatement. The 6’3 superstar has been one of the best players on the Irish’s roster. Without the torn ACL, Notre Dame could be looking at a Final Four run, but they still didn’t show enough.
Arike Ogunbowale, 25 points, and Marina Mabrey, 20 points, seemed to be the only two offensive threats for Notre Dame. Turner’s 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game most definitely would have been useful in this matchup. The problem is that Stanford wasn’t fighting a battle in the paint, they were winning through their guards.
It all comes down to this; would Turner have helped? Yes. Would Notre Dame have the advantage if she played? Yes. Is it guaranteed they would have won? No.
You add Turner into the starting lineup, and this game is different. That doesn’t mean she’s going to win the game, though. Stanford fought with everything they had and pulled off a bracket-busting win. People seem to forget that it’s March and just because it’s the women’s tournament doesn’t mean there’s no madness.
There’s no one player, moment, call, or shot that decided this game. It’s the NCAA Tournament and what happens makes about as much sense as magic tricks to the audience. We all know it could’ve have been different but it wasn’t, and there’s nothing we know for certain in a hypothetical situation.
The future is bright for this Notre Dame team. Don’t let an early exit put fans or players down. One player doesn’t make the difference, but put the women they have coming back next season on the court at once, and this team is nearly unstoppable.
Remember, it’s March, crazy happens. But it’s done and over with, and now it’s time to focus on how bright this team’s future is.