Four of the five Notre Dame starters reached double-figure scoring in the Irish’s win over Texas A&M.
But Irish coach Muffet McGraw called a basket by injured Kathryn Westbeld the most critical of the game.
Westbeld suffered an ankle injury in Notre Dame’s tournament-opening win over Cal State Northridge. She sat out the first half against Villanova before playing the second half.
She hit a jumper from the free-throw line, giving the Irish an 87-82 lead over A&M with 1:15 remaining. She finished with four points, six rebounds and three assists.
“I’m just so proud of this team and what we accomplished, especially Kathryn Westbeld playing basically on one leg,” McGraw said.
“The jumper she hit from the free-throw line was the difference in the game. That was the game winner.”
McGraw thought Westbeld’s presence for 32 minutes was huge.
“She made a big impact on the game (and) she hasn’t recovered yet,” McGraw said.
“Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to practice this week. She was in a boot. It’s probably not going to get better by Monday’s game.
“She shows tremendous toughness. We need her in the game because she does so many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair had some kind words for tournament officials.
“You had a well-run tournament. Spokane should be very proud of what they put on,” Blair said. “I know you’ve had tournaments in the men and in the women. This was as well run of a tournament as we’ve been to.”
Caution to Notre Dame
Blair took a moment to caution the injury-riddled Irish.
“Notre Dame could get hurt by some faster teams that have a longer bench than us,” he said. “We just didn’t have that, but you’ve got teams like Louisville. That’s the only thing I could see that could hurt Notre Dame.”
Odds and ends
Notre Dame advanced to the Elite Eight for a second straight year and its seventh time in the last eight years and ninth overall. … Marina Mabrey hit a career-high seven 3-pointers for the Irish. It’s also the most 3s by a Notre Dame player in 15 years. Her five 3s in the first half are the most since 2015. … Mabrey also had a season-best nine assists.
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