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How will the loss of Natalie Achonwa impact Notre Dame's national championship hopes?

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alstein of SB Naiton's Notre Dame site One Foot Down summarized both the Fighting Irish's big win to advance to the Final Four and "the bigger story" that emerged from it (aside from the officiating): Natalie Achonwa's injury.

It is hard to see the Irish winning the title without their major post presence and emotional leader, particularly against Connecticut in a potential final. Achonwa has been outstanding in the NCAA Tournament thus far, averaging over 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game, making her a legitimate candidate for Most Outstanding Player...Notre Dame plays their national semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's game between the 3-seed (but should have been 1-seed) Louisville Cardinals and 4-seed Maryland Terrapins, the latter of whom played the toughest game against the Irish all season.

Albert has already posted more on Achonwa's career-ending injury here at Swish Appeal, but the question of how her absence will impact Notre Dame moving forward likely begins with 6-foot-3 freshman forward Taya Reimer. Reimer understandably gets overlooked in favor of her more experienced teammates, but if you look at her tempo free statistics her statistical profile is actually a carbon copy of Achonwa's - she's a less efficient scorer, but they haven't lost much on paper when Reimer enters the game this season. And it's noteworthy that on every occasion when one of Notre Dame's stars has had an off game, someone else has stepped up.

As alstein mentions though, it's the intangibles of not having Achonwa on the court that could make the biggest difference.

For more on the Fighting Irish's Elite Eight win, check out One Foot Down. For more on their path to the Final Four, check out our Notre Dame region storystream.