SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points and two teammates had double-doubles as top-seed Notre Dame ran away from No. 9-seed Michigan State in the first half of a 91-63 victory Monday night in the NCAA Chicago Regional.
Jackie Young gave coach Muffet McGraw and the Purcell Pavilion crowd a scare when she fell hard to the floor just seconds before the end of the third quarter. She was ok and finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Fighting Irish, who are in the Sweet 16 for the 10th straight season. They will play No. 4-seed Texas A&M Saturday at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Brianna Turner had 14 points and 11 rebounds in becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leading rebounder, passing All-American Ruth Riley from the 2001 NCAA champions. Jessica Shepard had 19 points and nine rebounds as Notre Dame won its 11th straight despite shooting 47.9 percent (35 of 73). The Irish had a 49-37 edge in rebounds.
Coach Suzy Merchant’s Spartans (21-12) had few answers for Notre Dame’s dominant starters. For the second straight game, Sidney Cooks came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Jenna Allen closed her Michigan State career with 12 points. Kayla Belles scored 10. The Spartans shot just 37.3 percent (25 of 67) for the game.
Young showed off her versatility in the first half that Notre Dame dominated 52-26. Indiana’s all-time prep scorer at Princeton High School, 87 miles down the southern Indiana roads from Allen’s Bedford North Lawrence High, scored 13 points, pulled down eight rebounds, dished out five assists and had two blocks while also holding Taryn McCutcheon to zero points when McGraw elected to play some man-to-man rather than Notre Dame’s normal 2-3 zone.
Shepard led Notre Dame with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Ogunbowale also had 13 as Notre Dame used 57.9-percent shooting (11 of 19) and had a 31-17 edge on the boards led by Turner’s nine that helped her pass the 1,007 put up by former All-American Riley. Turner now has 1,010.
The Irish used their 40th run of 10 or more points this season in the second quarter to make the game a runaway at halftime. The 14-0 run was part of a 19-1 spurt over six minutes that sent Notre Dame from a 28-19 lead to a 47-20 advantage.
Notre Dame increased the lead to 30 points, 73-43, after three quarters but the crowd held its breath when Young collided with Michigan State’s Tory Ozment on a drive to the basket with three seconds remaining. Young took her time getting up before making one of two free throws and leaving the game.
Michigan State: The Spartans, who had a closed scrimmage in East Lansing with the Irish back in October before the regular season began, were dominated underneath as Notre Dame outscored them 32-12 in the paint and 8-0 on second-chance points with a 10-5 edge in offensive boards.
Notre Dame: Because of her two buzzer-beaters in last year’s Final Four, Ogunbowale gets a lot of attention and the Irish frontliners Turner and Shepard are a handful for teams. But Young, the only junior in the starting lineup who had two triple-doubles this season coming in, showed again why she could be Notre Dame’s most valuable player.