The Notre Dame women’s basketball team received the worst news possible Tuesday: An MRI has revealed an ACL tear in center Brianna Turner’s left leg. The All-America center — who is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder — will not return to the NCAA women’s tournament.
The 6-foot-3 junior was an imposing presence all year on the inside, creating havoc for Irish opponents trying to guard her. Turner was averaging 15.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game before suffering the injury (video here).
The Irish (32-3) were leading Purdue 45-31 with 48.4 seconds before the half when Turner jumped for a pass from Irish sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale. When Turner came down, her left knee buckled and she immediately fell to the floor in pain.
Turner was not helped off and returned to the bench for the second half to encourage her teammates, which left Irish fans with a hope she had just suffered a sprain. The Irish won the game, 88-82, in overtime to advance to the Sweet 16.
The top-seeded Irish will face the fifth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (28-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The Turner injury is the second time in four years that the Irish have lost a star player to a torn ACL in their left knee. Natalie Achonwa, who now plays for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, was lost during the Irish’s Elite 8 round victory over Baylor in 2014. The Irish lost to Connecticut in the championship game that year.
UPDATE: Mr. Belding has weighed in.