Muffet McGraw checked through the list of all the things Notre Dame did poorly early on. Bad shot selection. Lack of rebounding. Not enough stops on defense.
“We got down big. We’ve been down in other games. We feel like we are poised and can come back,”McGraw said.
As McGraw expected, the top-seeded Fighting Irish did have a comeback waiting and it landed Notre Dame back on the cusp of another trip to the Final Four.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 17 of her 27 points in the second half and Marina Mabrey added 25, hitting a career-high seven three-pointers, to help Notre Dame beat No. 4 seed Texas A&M 90-84 on Saturday in the Spokane Regional semifinals.
The Irish (32-3) rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit and are back in their familiar spot of playing for a trip to the Final Four. They will face No. 2 seed Oregon in the regional final on Monday.
It took a fantastic shooting performance from Mabrey and some key contributions late from Ogunbowale and Jackie Young for Notre Dame to hold off Chennedy Carter and the Aggies. Young had three key baskets in the final five minutes and finished with 15 points. Mabrey was seven for 11 on three-pointers and the Irish made 10 of 18 shots from behind the arc. She had all of her points in the first three quarters.
Connecticut 72, Duke 59: Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help the top-seed Huskies beat the Blue Devils and advance to the Elite Eight for the 13th consecutive season.
UConn (35-0) will face defending national champion South Carolina on Monday night in trying to reach an 11th straight Final Four.
The Huskies scored the first seven points of the game beginning with a banked-in three-pointer from Kia Nurse and they were off and running.
Duke had given up only an average of 49 points in its first two games of the tournament. UConn had that by the end of the third quarter, much to the delight of the partisan crowd of 10,658 that took in the Albany Regional.
South Carolina 79, Buffalo 63: Alexis Jennings scored 20 points, A’ja Wilson added 20 points and 13 rebounds, and the Gamecocks beat the Bulls to keep alive a quest to defend their title.
Second-seeded South Carolina’s (29-6) only losses this year have come against ranked teams.
Upstart Buffalo (29-6), only the third Mid-American Conference school to reach the Sweet 16, was among the final four teams to earn an at-large berth. It was the program’s second tournament appearance after a first-round exit two years ago.
Oregon 83, Central Michigan 69: Ruthy Hebard had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Sabrina Ionescu just missed another triple-double with 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and the second-seeded Ducks won a Spokane Region semifinal.
Lexi Bando had 14 points for Oregon (33-4), which earned a second consecutive trip to the Elite Eight with its 12th win in a row.