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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame holds off scrappy Indiana squad for another Sweet 16 berth

| Tuesday, March 22, 2016

No. 1 seed Notre Dame had watched a 13-point lead shrink to just two points near the end of the third quarter against ninth-seeded Indiana on Monday night, and the Hoosiers were ready for an upset.

But Lindsay Allen wasn’t about to let that happen.

The junior guard got her hands on an Indiana pass in midair and snapped the ball ahead to freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale for a layup, then Allen stole the inbounds throw and quickly converted it into another two points for the Irish.

The lead was back up to six points, but based on the runs the Hoosiers had made throughout the night, it still wasn’t safe.

But Indiana woke the sleeping giant on the next play, and there was no stopping for the Irish until the final buzzer.

Graduate student guard Madison Cable was fouled hard by Hoosiers junior guard Karlee McBride — the sister of former Irish All-American Kayla McBride — on a layup attempt and crashed to the hardwood on her back to silence the formerly raucous Purcell Pavilion crowd.

As Cable got back to her feet and returned to the huddle, officials determined McBride’s foul wasn’t flagrant, and play resumed.

Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen drives to the paint during Notre Dame’s 87-70 win over Indiana at Purcell Pavilion on Monday. Allen scored a season-high 22 points to lead her team to the Sweet 16. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen drives to the paint during Notre Dame’s 87-70 win over Indiana at Purcell Pavilion on Monday. Allen scored a season-high 22 points to lead her team to the Sweet 16.

Up to that point, Cable had just two points. But by the time the game ended a little more than a quarter later, that number had jumped to 16 as the Irish rode that momentum to an 87-70 victory to advance to their seventh-consecutive Sweet 16.

“I thought the foul was key,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “When Maddie got fouled, the crowd really got into it. I thought she got a little chip on her shoulder, and from that point on, she really wanted the ball. She hit back-to-back 3s shortly after that, and I thought that was the game.”

Cable’s 16 points were just the third-most on the team, with Allen pacing the way with 22, along with seven assists and five steals, and sophomore forward Brianna Turner adding 18 more, plus 10 rebounds and three blocks for a double-double.

Like Cable, Turner also surged in the second half, as she closed the second quarter with four points on 2-of-6 shooting, but her teammates frequently found her mismatched in the paint for easy buckets after halftime.

“I think that she puts a lot of pressure on herself, and she wants to play well every possession,” McGraw said of Turner. “I think after that first shot it threw her a little bit because she was just a little bit off in the first half. I think she relaxed a little bit in the second half after watching Lindsay and Madison get some points, she realized that she didn’t have to do it all by herself, even though we were calling her number very frequently. You’d think she had a bad game, but she scored 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and one turnover — not a bad day at the office.”

With Turner and Cable not hitting their strides until after halftime, the Irish relied heavily on Allen before the half, who had 18 points at the break, and freshman guard Marina Mabrey, who scored 11 of her 15 points in second quarter alone.

While Notre Dame never trailed past the 6:28 mark of the first quarter, the Hoosiers never fell too far away until after the foul on Cable, either, and the teams exchanged runs that kept the Irish from developing a comfortable lead.

Notre Dame closed the first quarter on a 9-3 run, while Indiana had missed all five of its final field goal attempts.

Then the Hoosiers roared back to tie it up at 26 midway through the second quarter before the Irish pulled their lead back up to 10 at halftime by hitting all of their final six shots.

Finally, Indiana made one last bid by knocking what had been a 13-point deficit down to just two points before the Allen steal-Ogunbowale layup-Allen steal-Allen layup-Cable foul sequence started to put the game away.

“They’re a good team, and I think they were playing really hard,” Cable said. “They came into the game, and they weren’t really afraid. They made a couple runs, but I think that we finally ended that and went on a run and never looked back.”

McBride carried the load for the Hoosiers in the first half, connecting on 4-of-5 3-point attempts for 12 points at the break, but she managed just five more points after halftime as the Irish defense keyed in on guarding her.

Junior guard Alexis Gassion also totaled 17 points to co-lead the Hoosiers in scoring, and three other players added 10 apiece. After Indiana made six 3s in the first half, Notre Dame didn’t allow another shot from long-range until one made it through at the final buzzer.

“It’s important for us to play in a close game; we haven’t had a lot of them,” McGraw said. “We’ve had plenty of ACC games where we were down in the second half. At Duke, we were down five in the fourth quarter. We’ve had the chance to be able to come back, and we know what that’s like. We need to work a little bit more on late-game situations. I think the league really prepared us for having close games.”

Notre Dame will next play in the Sweet 16 against No. 4 seed Stanford, the same team it topped in last year’s Sweet 16. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Current Assistant Managing Editor, former Sports Editor of The Observer | Follow Mary on Twitter: @maryegreen15

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