SOUTH BEND –
How it Happened
Neither team started the game shooting well from the field. After a few early baskets left the score tied at 6, Notre Dame missed five straight shots and Michigan State missed seven in a row. In the end, it was the Irish that recovered first, allowing them to take command of the game.
Notre Dame ripped off an 11-2 run midway through the second quarter that put the Irish in control for good. Jackie Young was central to the rally, scoring five of the points, including one on a driving layup that resulted in an old-fashioned 3-point play. Young was terrific in the first quarter, scoring nine points to help Notre Dame lead 25-14 at the end of one period.
The teams traded baskets early in the second period, with Michigan State putting together a stretch of solid offensive possessions for one of the only times all night. With 6:40 remaining, however, Arike Ogunbowale hit a 15-foot jumper to put the Irish in front 35-20 and that started the game-turning run for Notre Dame. The hosts went on to score 14 points in a row and extend their lead to 27 before Michigan State's Sidney Cooks finally broke the streak with a 3-pointer. The run covered 3:40 and saw Jessica Shepard score six points in a row during one stretch.
The defining characteristic of the first half was Notre Dame's ability to get good looks close to the basket. Again and again a simple ball-screen action would free up an Irish ball-handler for free-throw line jumper or a drive to the rim and they didn't meet much resistance in either case. It didn't help the Spartans' cause that they couldn't rebound, either. Notre Dame had a monster 31-17 advantage on the glass in the first half and led 52-26 on the scoreboard at halftime. Shepard, Ogunbowale and Young combined for 40 first-half points as the Irish ran away with the game.
The teams traded baskets early in the third quarter, but that wasn't good enough for Michigan State to climb back into the game. Notre Dame continued to hold a comfortable lead and essentially put the game away with a 7-0 run late in the quarter. Ogunbowale capped the spurt with a long 3-pointer, holding the follow-through as her team went in front 67-35. The Irish coasted through the final quarter to move on to the Sweet 16 once again.
Player of the Game: Arike Ogunbowale
Ogunbowale had a solid all-around game scoring 23 points on 8 for 17 from the field and adding five assists and four rebounds. She was Notre Dame's go-to scorer as the Irish put the game away in the third quarter and was aggressive going to the rim most of the night. She made two of Notre Dame's three 3-pointers.
Facts and Figures
Notre Dame advances to the Sweet 16 for the 10th consecutive season. ... The Irish have won 996 games in their history. They'll reach 1,000 this season if they win the national championship. ... Notre Dame has won seven straight games against the Spartans. The teams met for a secret preseason scrimmage before the regular season began in October. ... Notre Dame is 22-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament games at Purcell Pavilion. ... Notre Dame did not make a 3-pointer until 3:28 remained in the third quarter. ND scored 52 points in the paint. ... The Irish shot 48 percent from the field, while the Spartans hit 37 percent. ... Brianna Turner scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Young joined her with a double-double, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds and adding seven assists. Jessica Shepard had 19 points and nine rebounds. ... Notre Dame had a 49-37 advantage in rebounding and had 15 second-chance points. ... Cooks led Michigan State with 17 points. ... The Spartans have not been to the Sweet 16 since 2009.
The Irish move on to the Sweet 16 at the United Center in Chicago, where they will face No. 4 seed Texas A&M (26-7) on Saturday. The tip time and broadcast information are TBA. The Aggies dispatched Wright State 84-61 in the first round of the tournament and then squeaked past No. 5 seed Marquette 78-76 to reach the Sweet 16.