Top-seeded Notre Dame conquered the Spokane Regional with an 84-74 triumph over No. 2 Oregon in their Elite Eight matchup. Senior forward Kathryn Westbeld led the way 20 points, but it was a team effort as three other Fighting Irish scored 15 points or more.
Notre Dame had a dominant performance in the low-post, where they won the rebounding battle, 51-29, and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds. The Fighting Irish also passed the ball well, getting an assist on 21 out of 31 (68%) of made baskets, and did a good job at the free-throw line, where they hit 19-21 (90.5%) freebies.
Oregon’s season ends with an impressive run for a young team which has shown a lot of promise. While undoubtedly disappointed to be going home, the Ducks’ leading scorer on the season, Sabrina Ionescu, is just a sophomore and the team’s next three top scorers have eligibility remaining as well. After winning the Pac 12 Tournament and regular season title and making an Elite Eight, it’s clear the future is bright in Eugene.
With the win, Notre Dame moves on to face heated rival UConn in the Final Four matchup opposite Louisville vs. Mississippi State. This is the eighth Final Four appearance for Notre Dame, its first since 2015, and perhaps the most impressive for head coach Muffet McGraw. Her team suffered a couple of key injuries before the season started and this group has persevered to put on a stellar regular-season performance and also cruised through the NCAA Tournament field thus far.
UConn and Notre Dame met earlier this year in the regular season, with the Huskies needing a furious late comeback to stay undefeated, but it was the second-closest game on their schedule. Their meeting on Friday has instant-classic potential.
Notre Dame will face UConn for the seventh time in the NCAA tournament. The series is tied 3-3, with all meetings coming in the national semifinals or championship game.— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) March 27, 2018