CHICAGO – The Irish were hitting on (almost) all cylinders Saturday, and they needed to be to get past Texas A&M and reach tonight's Elite Eight match-up against Stanford.
The Cardinal, however, had a horrendous shooting night Saturday, hitting just 25 percent of their shots as they sneaked past 11th-seed Missouri State. Stanford will almost certainly have to improve on that if they want to keep up with nation's top-scoring team, as Notre Dame is averaging just under 90 points.
A milestone that underlines that fact: Notre Dame starters Arike Ogunbowale, Jessica Shepard, Brianna Turner, Jackie Young and Marina Mabrey are just eight points from a combined 10,000 for their collegiate careers. They're sure to become the first college team, men's or women's, to break that mark early in tonight's regional final.
Both Young and Mabrey are in the starting lineups as expected. Young had the wind knocked out of her in a collision during Saturday's regional semifinal, although she did return to the game. Mabrey hyper-extended her knee earlier this month, and though she has played extensive minutes so far in the tournament she's scored just five points in the first three games.
The Stanford starting five, which includes forwards Alanna Smith, who is listed at 6-foot-4, and Maya Dodson (6-3), are allowing just 54.3 points a game. They kept Missouri State's shooting percentage almost as low as their own on Saturday night. Will they be able to repeat the feat – or come close – against Notre Dame tonight? Remember, Stanford has yet to lose this season while allowing fewer than 70 points.
The prize for winning tonight's game? A ticket to the Final Four in Tampa, and a meeting with 11-time national champion Connecticut.