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Notre Dame vs. South Carolina final score: Irish narrowly avoid late-game collapse, win 66-65

It wasn't pretty, but this game was exciting to say the least.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, what a way to kick off the Women's Final Four!

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish looked like they were going to run away with this game. But they went scoreless from 6:51 to 18 seconds left, allowed the South Carolina Gamecocks to lead late in the game. It was their first lead too!

But Notre Dame star Jewell Loyd missed a jump shot, and Madison Cable made what ended up being the game-winner to allow the Irish to escape with a 66-65 win after Tiffany Mitchell missed a potential game-winning three.

With the exception of those last seven minutes, the Irish were in firm control.

In the first half, Notre Dame never trailed and raced to an early 15-3 lead. South Carolina was able to make a run to get the score as close as 25-24 with 3:32 left, but Jewell Loyd scored five consecutive points and Taya Reimer capped off a subsequent 7-0 run to get the game back in the Irish's favor. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, they scored two more baskets before the end of the half. Yes, it was a close game, but South Carolina was playing catch-up from the moment Notre Dame punched them in the mouth at tipoff.

South Carolina was able to get the game tied 36-all early in the second half. But Jewell Loyd stepped up when they needed her most, where she converted a three-point play, which got the Irish on a 10-0 run. A'ja Wilson then scored eight of the Gamecocks' next 10 points to make it a 48-46 game, but again, Notre Dame was able to expand their lead to double digits again.

That set up the stage for the Gamecocks' late run. During that time, Aleighsa Welch and A'ja Wilson grabbed rebounds and scored crucial buckets. Meanwhile, Notre Dame point guard Lindsay Allen fouled out, but she wasn't particularly effective, where she went scoreless.

Some other stats and notes:

  • A'ja Wilson led all SC scorers with 20 points and shot 8 of 11 from the field.
  • Jewell Loyd led the Irish with 22 points and made a number of difficult midrange shots. But she was inefficient, shooting 9 of 24 from the field.
  • I also liked Notre Dame's frontcourt's performance tonight. Taya Reimer scored 16 points while shooting 7 of 10 from the field. Brianna Turner also added 17 points and eight rebounds.

Here's to hoping that the UConn and Maryland game also provides a lot of excitement.