One day after the men's basketball team feel agonizingly short of the Final Four, the women's team knocked off a tough Baylor team to win the Midwest Regional. The Irish defeated Stanford 81-60 on Friday evening followed by a 77-68 win over Baylor. The two wins propelled ND to their fifth straight Final Four where the Irish will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks next Sunday.
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Notre Dame 81, #4 Stanford 60
The Irish led for nearly the entire game against the fourth seeded Stanford knocking off the Cardinal 81-60. Stanford's only lead was 6-4 before the Irish took a lead just after the first media timeout. They would never trail again. Four of the Irish starters finished in double figures. ND was led by PG Lindsay Allen's 28 points on 9/17 shooting while dishing out four assists. ACC Player of the Year Jewell Loyd finished with 21 points, but struggled from the floor shooting just 7/21. The starting front court of Taya Reimer and Brianna Turner combined for 22 points (10 and 12 each) on 11/17 shooting. The story of this one was the Irish defense. ND held Stanford to just 35.4% shooting, and turned Stanford over 14 times. The Irish also defended the arc well limited the Cardinal to 5/15 from behind the arc. The win set up an Elite Eight rematch with Baylor.
Elite Eight: #1 Notre Dame 77, #2 Baylor 68
In a rematch from last year's Elite Eight, the Irish repeated history by eliminating Baylor to advance to the Final Four. The game was tight throughout, and the Irish trailed by as many as nine in the first half. The Irish used a nice run after the second half under 12:00 to gain the lead on a Jewell Loyd bucket, and held on the rest of the way. Much like the game against Stanford, the Irish were once again led by PG Lindsay Allen. She finished with 23 points on 10/16 shooting and went 3/4 at the line. The strong performances in the two games led to her winning the Regional's Most Outstanding Player. Loyd struggled for a second consecutive game going just 5/18 from the field for 14 points. The positive takeaway is that the Irish can beat top competition without their star player dominating the game, but they'll probably need Lloyd to be at her best against South Carolina and potentially UConn in the final. The Irish also let Baylor hang around with some serious struggles at the line. ND shot just 12/24 from the stripe which included a series of misses down the stretch. Baylor was led by forward Nina Davis who finished with 26 points and 10 boards. Despite the less than perfect performance by the Irish, it was good enough to send the Irish to another Final Four.