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Notre Dame wins Spokane Regional and spot in national semifinals

UPDATED: Mon., March 26, 2018, 8:34 p.m.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) drives against Oregon during the first half of a 2018 NCAA women’s Elite Eight basketball game on Monday, March 26, 2018, at the Arena. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) drives against Oregon during the first half of a 2018 NCAA women’s Elite Eight basketball game on Monday, March 26, 2018, at the Arena. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Kathryn Westbeld scored 20 points, Jessica Shepard added 18 and Notre Dame reached the Final Four for the eighth time in school history by defeating Oregon 84-74 on Monday night at the Arena.

Westbeld came up with the biggest game of her Notre Dame career despite being slowed by an ankle injury suffered in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Westbeld had scored a combined 12 points in the previous four games, but she teamed with Shepard for an inside attack that hurt the Ducks.

Westbeld made 9 of 12 shots. Notre Dame (33-3) outscored Oregon 52-38 in the paint and outrebounded the Ducks 51-29 in the Spokane Regional final.

Arike Ogunbowale added 19 points and Marina Mabrey had 15 for the Irish.

Despite a handful of costly injuries along the way, the Irish are back in a familiar spot in the national semifinals. It’s the sixth Final Four for Notre Dame since 2011 and old friend UConn awaits in the semis Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.

First-team all-American Sabrina Ionescu led Oregon (33-5) with 26 points, but the Ducks struggled offensively over the final 20 minutes. Oregon shot 8 of 31 in the second half and Ionescu had just seven points after the break.

The Ducks were unable to find other scoring options. Ruthy Hebard had 12 points in the first half and just five in the second half.

Oregon also never got into a rhythm with its outside shooting. The Ducks were 4 of 15 on 3-pointers after entering as the No. 2 team in the country at 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Notre Dame’s defense was a big reason why Oregon shot so poorly.

After a first half that was an offensive showcase, Notre Dame did a better job of pressuring Ionescu and getting the ball out of her hands in the second half. When she did get a shot attempt, it was often a challenged look.


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