Notre Dame Women’s Basketball: Irish are Final Four bound!

SOUTH BEND, IN - DECEMBER 07: Lindsay Allen
SOUTH BEND, IN - DECEMBER 07: Lindsay Allen /

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team punched its ticket to the Final Four with a win over Oregon on Monday night.

The magical season for the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team continued on Monday night, as the Irish defeated a very good Oregon team 84-74.

All of the usual suspects for Notre Dame played a role, as Arike Ogunbowale, Jessica Shepard and Marina Mabrey came up big. Ogunbowale — fresh off of being named an AP Second Team All-American earlier in the day — finished with 19-points and six rebounds. Shepard had another solid night down low, logging 18-points and nine rebounds. Marina Mabrey was off to a slow start. It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter that she hit her first shot from behind the arc. She still got things going and finished with 15-points. She also added seven assists.

But it was Kathryn Westbeld who came up big. A 20-point performance on 9-12 shooting was a team best.

The Irish also got a lot of help from Jackie Young, who turned in a solid eight points, and a game-high 13-rebound performance of her own.

As expected, Sabrina Ionescu led the way for the Ducks with 26 points and 5 rebounds.

Ogunbowale had the hot hand early and it might have been the saving grace for the Irish. Oregon was efficient throughout,  but not quite as efficient as the Irish.

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The Irish were able to match and even take advantage of Oregon’s size and length, going over the top of the defense. While Notre Dame found success down low, it was the mid-range jumpers that kept the Ducks in it.

In the second quarter, Oregon stole all the momentum and ramped it up on the defensive end. The wanted to make things interesting and knew exactly how to do that. Ogunbowale was held scoreless in the second quarter and things weren’t as easy in the paint — as the Ducks came with intensity.

Passing success

In the first half, Notre Dame assisted on 14 of their 17 field goals. The best way to take momentum back for the Irish was going to be getting to the middle of the zone.

The Irish ripped into the middle of the paint once again, taking control of the game with a 15-4 run to open up the third quarter.

Notre Dame started clicking with their balanced scoring. Soon after, Young took over despite her slow start. All of a sudden, it looked like Notre Dame was ready to run away.

Oregon made a slight run, but Shepard wasn’t about to let this one slip away. The Irish needed her to have a strong presence in the paint and that’s what she gave her squad.

At times, Oregon gave Notre Dame about all they could handle, but it wasn’t enough. The Irish grabbed the 84-74 win and a Final Four berth.

Notre Dame’s win sets up a rematch with the No. 1 overall seeded Connecticut Huskies. UConn won the first meeting between the two teams back in December, 80-71. That was UConn’s smallest margin of victory in games played in their home state during the 2017-2018 season.

Related Story: Notre Dame Football: Four Neutral-Site Dream Matchups for the Irish

The two teams will meet on a neutral court in Columbus, Ohio on March 30th at 9 PM ET, with both teams expected to have plenty of fans in the stands.