March 28, 2010 in Sports

Sooners look to avenge early-season loss to Notre Dame

Luke Meredith Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oklahoma and Notre Dame last squared off in a near-empty gym in St. Thomas in late November, one day after the Sooners lost their emotional leader, guard Whitney Hand, to a season-ending knee injury.

The Sooners would love to forget about that one, since the Fighting Irish ran them out of the gym.

The third-seeded Sooners (25-10) get another crack at the Fighting Irish (29-5) tonight. This time it’ll be in the Kansas City Regional semifinals, before a bigger crowd in a city Oklahoma knows so well.

The Sooners are rejuvenated, retooled and looking to settle a score with the Fighting Irish, who beat them 81-71 on Nov. 28. Oklahoma also lost to Notre Dame in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament – in overtime, no less – so motivation certainly won’t be an issue.

“It’s kind of like payback,” Oklahoma forward Amanda Thompson said.

Notre Dame is back in the regional semifinals for the eighth time in 14 years, and is 29-2 against teams not named Connecticut. The Fighting Irish rolled through the first two rounds, beating Cleveland State and Vermont by an average of 23 points. They’re deep and experienced, with four talented seniors surrounding Skylar Diggins, the sensational freshman guard who averages 13.9 points a game.

Senior guard Lindsay Schrader is averaging 11 points and 6.9 rebounds a game and fellow senior Ashley Barlow is right behind her with 10.9 points and 5.1 boards a night.

Danielle Robinson has been the key player for Oklahoma, but she’s also had plenty of help.

Thompson joined Robinson as a first-team All-Big 12 pick, and she’s been at her best in the postseason. Dating back to the Big 12 tournament Thompson has posted four double-doubles in five games.

Oklahoma is a much better team four months later, having been tested by the nation’s toughest schedule. Notre Dame is too, though, which is why their rematch promises to be a good one.

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