Number 1 seed Notre Dame fell to 4-seed Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night by a final score of 90-84. The other three regional semifinal games on Friday all ended in upsets, including fellow 1-seed South Carolina's loss to 4-seed Syracuse, and Notre Dame could not avoid the same fate.
In a rematch of last year's regional semifinal, the Irish played in their 7th consecutive Sweet Sixteen while Stanford played in their 9th in a row. Stanford dominated the game early as Notre Dame struggled on both ends of the floor. Stanford forward Erica McCall proved to be nearly unstoppable, scoring 19 of her career-high 27 points in the first half. She was just one piece of a Stanford team that shot 65% in the first half and 56% for the game. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame offense was unable to find its footing. Junior point guard Lindsay Allen sat for several minutes with two fouls, and sophomore forward and ACC Player of the Year Brianna Turner was scoreless in the first half. The Irish entered the locker room down 50-39.
While the offense started to come together in the third quarter, the defense continued to struggle and the Irish still trailed by ten going into the fourth quarter. Notre Dame made several attempts to cut into Stanford's lead during the fourth quarter, but the Cardinal seemed to have an answer for every Notre Dame run. Senior Madison Cable scored to cut the deficit to three with just under two minutes remaining in the game, but a Karlie Samuelson 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring stretched Stanford's lead back to six. With a four-point game and 30 seconds remaining the Irish turned to fouling the Cardinal, but were unable to close the gap. Lindsay Allen finished the game with 20 points. Brianna Turner ended with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
After five consecutive Final Four appearances, this year Notre Dame's season ends in the Sweet Sixteen. Stanford will face Washington in an all Pac-12 regional final game on Sunday.