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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish set to host Hoosiers with Sweet 16 berth on the line

| Monday, March 21, 2016

No. 1-seeded Notre Dame will take on in-state opponent and No. 9-seed Indiana for a place in the Sweet 16 in Monday’s NCAA tournament second-round matchup.

The Hoosiers (21-11, 12-6 Big Ten), in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002, earned their second ever tournament win when they defeated Georgia 62-58 at Purcell Pavilion in the Round of 64 on Saturday. Hoosier head coach Teri Moren’s program ended the regular season on a high, winning seven of its last eight games. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said Moren’s success in just her second year with the program was extremely impressive.

“She’s done a fabulous job,” McGraw said. “I think that’s a huge turnaround, to come in fourth in the conference after just her second year. We see a lot of the players who go there so we know quite a bit about the team, and it’s nice to have great basketball in the midwest. We’re really happy that the program has made a resurgence under [Moren].”

Hoosier sophomore guard Tyra Buss has been the star of this year’s team, averaging 19.1 points per game. McGraw said Buss’s ability to drive to the basket and get to the line will be hard to deal with.

“Well, Buss gets to the free throw line [261] times, which is amazing,” McGraw said. “The leader on our team is about 120. She really drives the ball well. She’s on attack mode all the time. We’ve got to be alert. Our rotations have to be really good. We’ve got to be able to find her and slow her down in transition, which is really hard to do. I don’t think anyone has been successful at it all year long. So I think that she’s the key to their team.”

However, McGraw added that the Hoosiers’ perimeter shooting will mean her team can’t focus solely on Buss.

“It’s tough defensively when you have people who can do a lot of different things, so I think it’s going to be a real challenge for our defense,” McGraw said. “I think [Hoosier sophomore forward Amanda Cahill is] a really good player, she’s a little bit under the radar. She shoots the ball extremely well, she’s just really, really crafty. I think she does a great job in their offense. So I think they’ve got a lot of good pieces to put together. They’ve had a really good season.”

The Irish enter the game coming off a comprehensive 95-61 victory over North Carolina A&T in the first round of the tournament. Each of the first 20 field goals for the Irish were assisted, including eight first-half assists for junior guard Lindsay Allen. Allen said this kind of performance showed the mentality of this team.

“It was a point for us to set the tone early,” Allen said. “We talked about that before the game. I think it shows how unselfish this team is, how we are willing to make the extra pass and get the extra shot for our teammates. I think that was really important yesterday.”

Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen directs the offense during Notre Dame’s 95-61 win over North Carolina A&T on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen directs the offense during Notre Dame’s 95-61 win over North Carolina A&T on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. Allen had a game-high 10 assists for the Irish in the victory.

Senior guard Michaela Mabrey said that unselfish play was something that comes naturally to the Irish.

“I don’t think it’s a mindset, we just do that naturally,” Mabrey said. “Our whole team is very unselfish. We are always trying to make the extra pass and get a better shot. We made our shots last night and made great passes. I think it showed up on the stat sheet.”

Also in the Hoosier lineup is junior guard Karlee McBride, the sister of Notre Dame’s former All-American guard, Kayla McBride.

“It is strange,” McGraw said. “Hearing the announcers saying, ‘McBride for three,’ brings back some good memories. I talked to her mom and dad and brother and sister last night. It was just so great to see them and welcome them back home. It’s hard to see them on the other side though.”

“[Kayla’s] not cheering for us,” Mabrey added.

The Irish and the Hoosiers will tip off at Purcell Pavilion on Monday at 6:30 pm.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel