Stanford ousts defenseless Notre Dame women's hoops

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The year-long dream to reach a sixth straight Final Four in women’s college basketball died Friday night for Notre Dame (33-2) when No. 4 seed Stanford (27-7) defeated the Irish, 90-84, in the NCAA regional semifinal at Rupp Arena.

Notre Dame trailed virtually the whole game but mounted a late rally. Down by 12 points with 6:30 to play, the Irish rallied to within three, 81-78, with 2:01 to play on Madison Cable’s rebound basket.

But Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson banked in a 3-pointer trying to avoid a shot-clock violation and the Cardinal regained a six-point lead and held on for the upset over the No. 1 seed Notre Dame.

Suddenly the Pac-12 earned a major dose of respect. The Washington Huskies, a No. 7 seed, controlled the first game, downing No. 2 seed Kentucky, 85-72. That one, of course, was followed by the Stanford upset of the Irish.

Stanford and Washington will meet at 1 p.m. Sunday for the right to advance to next weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis.

The loss was the first for the Irish since a December setback at Connecticut.

Erica McAll, a 6-foot-3 junior, was the primary weapon for Stanford. She scored 27 points while Samuelson added 20. The Irish simply could not solve the efficient Stanford offense.

Lindsay Allen led Notre Dame with 20 points, while Brianna Turner added 16 and Cable 12.

The final period opened with Notre Dame trailing by 10, 67-57, and the Irish still found no answer for the Stanford attack. Notre Dame closed to within seven at 58-51 with when Marina Mabrey hit a 3, but got no closer during the third period.

The Irish found themselves trailing by 11, 50-39, at halftime. Stanford hit 65 percent of its shots in the opening two periods, including six of nine from beyond the 3-point line. McCall was unstoppable for the Cardinal, scoring 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting.

The Notre Dame defense, normally a major part of the Irish success, struggled with the Cardinal attack.

Stanford hit six of its first nine shots to open a 16-12 lead at the 4:21 mark of the first quarter. The Cardinal went on an 8-0 run to erase what had been a 12-8 Irish lead.

Behind 10 points from McCall, the Cardinal stretched their lead to 28-21 after one quarter, getting 14 of their points on easy shots in the paint.

The Irish were hurt when point guard Allen picked up her second foul at the 2:20 mark of the period and was taken out. Post Kristina Nelson gave the Irish a spark with six straight points, while giving Brianna Turner a break, but Stanford was riddling the Irish defense, scoring almost at will.

The leading scorer for Notre Dame at the intermission was Nelson, with eight. Allen had seven and Arike Ogunbowale six.

Early in the week Irish coach Muffet McGraw talked about how difficult the matchup McCall would be, and she was right. “She has really improved and plays well facing the basket,” McGraw said then. McCall indeed was that, and added one 3-pointer to hurt the Irish.

The victory gave Stanford a measure or revenge. The Irish beat the Cardinal, 81-60, in regional action a year ago.

STANFORD 90, NOTRE DAME 84

STANFORD (90): Kay. Johnson 5-8 7-11 17, McCall 12-18 2-2 27, Thompson 4-14 0-0 11, Roberson 1-2 1-2 4, Samuelson 6-8 3-3 20, McPhee 0-0 0-0 0, Sniezek 5-8 0-0 11, Kai. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-59 13-18 90.

NOTRE DAME (84): Turner 8-15 0-0 16, Westbeld 3-5 0-0 6, Allen 7-15 6-6 20, Cable 4-13 3-3 12, Mi. Mabrey 2-5 0-0 5, Ogunbowale 2-5 1-2 6, Ma. Mabrey 2-2 2-2 7, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 4-6 0-0 8, Huffman 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 34-69 12-13 84.

Stanford 28 22 17 23—90

Notre Dame 21 18 18 27—84

3-Point Goals--Stanford 11-20 (Samuelson 5-6, Thompson 3-7, Roberson 1-2, Sniezek 1-2, McCall 1-3), Notre Dame 4-6 (Mi. Mabrey 1-1, Ma. Mabrey 1-1, Ogunbowale 1-1, Cable 1-2, Allen 0-1). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Stanford 28 (Kay. Johnson 12), Notre Dame 34 (Turner 10). Assists--Stanford 22 (Thompson 9), Notre Dame 15 (Allen, Westbeld 5). Total Fouls--Stanford 13, Notre Dame 18. A--8,509.

Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen (15) shoots between Stanford's Marta Sniezek, left, and Hannah Huffman during ND's 90-84 Sweet 16 loss to Stanford, Friday at Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/JAMES CRISP)