Monday night was a crazy night for the for the Fightin’ Irish. A trip to the Final Four against UConn on Friday night was on the line. In order to get there, the Fightin’ Irish had to play the Stanford Cardinal. Prior to Monday nights game, Stanford had eliminated ND two out of the last three years. Coming off a tight game on Saturday against Aggies, the Irish will need to dig deep and show the Cardinal why they are the defending national champion.
The first quarter started like you thought it would Arike Ogunbowale for a three pointer. But the first quarter was far from normal for either team. Both teams were struggling offensively. As a matter of fact the Irish were a mere 1-8 at the 6:14 mark in the first quarter. The good part was that Stanford was 2-8 in the same time span. Both teams appeared to be forcing the ball with the turnovers and heldball turnovers. The lead changed hands six times in the first ten minutes of the quarter.
If you were looking for a shiny moment in the first quarter it came at 1:47 remaining in the the first quarter. Ogunbowale, Turner, Young, Shepard, and Mabrey eclipsed the 10,000 points score milestone. the points came off of Turner’s two pointer.
The Irish had a season low 4-20, 20% shooting from the field, while Stanford managed to work out a 6-20, or 30% shooting from the field in the first quarter. Remember this “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” The Cardinal goes on to win the first quarter 13-11. A press of the reset button was definitely needed by the Irish.
Abby Prohaska started the Irish off in the second quarter with the first to points to bring the Irish within 1 point. Again, the luck of the Irish was shining down on Wintrust Arena. Though the Irish were struggling, Stanford was having their offensive woes again as well. The Irish took a brief one point lead at the 6:57 mark powered by Jackie Young. That would be the only lead for the Irish in the second quarter.
The “paint” that is typically the Irish’s best friend became a foe in the first half. Nothing was falling from inside and nothing was falling from the outside either. It was watching Space Jam when all the players talent was stolen. The Irish were in a hole and they needed to get to the locker room to make the necessary adjustments. Stanford for the quarter shot 8-14 from the field for 57.1% (41% overall for the half). Free throws were a different story. 3-6 for Stanford. Every point counts in a close game.
The Irish though being down were doing what they could with the clock not running. They went 4-4 from the free throw line and 6-19 or 31.6% from the field (25.6% overall for the first half). If there is one thing that Coach McGraw can do, get more out of here team. Stanford outscore the Irish 20-15 and the overall lead is 33-26.
For those that need a quick refresher. ND was down 41-37 to UConn in the semifinal round last year. How did that turn out? The winds of change were starting to blow in the Fightin’ Irish favor. The change was slow but with time on the clock, you need to let the game come to you. Patience is the key in situations like this. Slowly the Irish chipped away at the the Cardinal lead. A layup and a foul to Shepard took three points out of the Cardinal lead. Then a layup by Young and Shepard took four points out of the lead. A layup by turner cut the lead to one, at 2:33 in the third quarter.
At 2:05 remaining in the third quarter the come back was complete. A Young jumper on the fast break put the Irish to the lead. The Irish never looked back from that point. Young was doing it on her own offensively and defensively. Not being denied on the glass on the defensive side and not being denied the points on the offensive side. The Irish outscore the Cardinal 26-13 in the quarter. They shot 70.6% or 12-17 from the field. Young tallied four defensive rebounds and nine points in the third quarter. Now the Irish need to close the game out.
The Irish are ten minutes from going back to the Final Four. First they need to close out Stanford. At 7:41 the Irish were on a 26-8 run that had started in the third quarter. When the Irish find the throttle, it goes wide open in a hurry. It was time for the Young and Ogunbowale show to close out the final act.
Ogunbowale had five baskets in the fourth quarter. Four of those baskets were on the fast break. Young had four baskets along with two made free throws. This team knows how to dig deep and then go to the next level and shut down their opponent. Discipline is one of this teams better traits. Stanford only went to the foul line one time in the fourth quarter. The Irish went 9-9 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. The Irish outscored the Cardinal 32-22 in the final quarter of the Elite 8 round. Irish go “Onward To Victory” over Stanford 84-68.
Players And Their Numbers
Jackie Young 25 Points, 10 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal
Arike Ogunbowale 21 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals
Jessica Shepard 11 Points, 14 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Blocks, 2 Steals
Marina Mabrey 7 Points, 4 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 1 Steal
Post Game Conferences
Coach Tara Vanderveer
“They made some tough shots, and I think they’ll be a great representative from this bracket at the Final Four.”
“I thought our young players really stepped up to the challenge, and our — kind of our leaders with Alanna and DiJonai and Kiana really had — made some outstanding plays for us to even be ahead at halftime and compete.”
“But I’m really proud of our team. I just want to just congratulate Alanna. She had a great career at Stanford, and we’ll really miss her next year. But I think that with the returners, we can build on a great season and this, playing in this Elite 8. “
Coach Muffet McGraw
” That was unbelievable. First half, could not make a shot. I thought we looked just completely out of sorts, very unlike what we normally look like. I think credit Stanford’s defense. They were hitting the boards hard. They were packing it in. We couldn’t get anything going. And then second half we looked like ourselves again.”
“I thought that Arike was just phenomenal down the stretch. Jackie Young picked up where Arike left off in the third quarter when she got her fouls, but I thought Abby Prohaska gave us such a huge lift. That momentum really helped turn the game around.”
Next up for the Fightin’ Irish are the UConn Huskies in a rematch of last years semifinal. UConn is going to want revenge and ND is wanting a repeat. Only the strong will survive. The Irish will play Friday Night at a time to be determined.
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏀⚡