SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With top-seeded Notre Dame struggling to a halftime tie Sunday against Villanova in a second-round women’s NCAA tournament game, a visibly angry Muffet McGraw had seen enough from her team.

When the Irish returned from the locker room, enter Kathryn Westbeld, who sat out the first half because of a left ankle sprain, and the Irish found their way to the regional semifinals for the ninth straight season with a 98-72 victory against pesky Villanova.

Westbeld turned her ankle in Notre Dame’s 99-81 first-round win Friday against Cal State Fullerton and was listed by McGraw as a game-time decision. She was dressed for warmups but clearly struggling, so McGraw started Kristina Nelson and tried freshman Danielle Patterson before using sophomore walk-on Kaitlin Cole, whose offensive rebound and layup had made it 45-45 at halftime.

Using the energy provided by Westbeld’s return, the Irish started the third quarter with a 12-3 run and outscored the Wildcats (23-9) by a 28-8 margin for a 73-53 lead after three quarters. They moved into the regional semifinals Saturday at Spokane, Washington, against Texas A&M.

Jessica Shepard had her fourth straight double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Notre Dame. Arike Ogunbowale and Jackie Young had 24 points each, and Marina Mabrey added 15 for the Irish (31-3), who held the Wildcats to 27 second-half points in winning their 25th straight game at home.

The Irish clearly were inspired by Westbeld, who left the floor with 4:02 remaining to a standing ovation. The Irish were ahead 94-64, and Westbeld, who had two points and six rebounds in 16 minutes, received a heartfelt embrace from McGraw.


Jannah Tucker led Villanova with 19 points, Kelly Jekot added 16 and Adrianna Hahn had 11. The Wildcats missed all five 3-pointers they took in the second half after hitting 10 of 15 in the first.

The Irish started in a man-to-man defense after primarily playing zone since their 100-67 loss to Louisville on Jan. 11. But Villanova quickly solved it, with Jekot scoring seven points by dashing for layups.

The Wildcats had a 12-11 lead with 4:08 to play. The Irish then went back to a 2-3 zone. The Wildcats took advantage by hitting two 3-pointers, one each by Tucker and Hahn, to take an 18-13 lead before McGraw called a timeout.

TEXAS A&M 80, DEPAUL 79: Freshman Chennedy Carter hit a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, capping a 37-point performance, to help fourth-seeded Texas A&M (26-9) rally from a 17-point second-half deficit and beat fifth-seeded DePaul (27-8) at College Station, Texas.

Carter had 32 points after halftime and the Aggies pulled off a stunning second-half comeback for the second consecutive year. It was the largest comeback ever in the second round of the tournament and the fourth-largest ever.



LOUISVILLE 90, MARQUETTE 72: Myisha Hines-Allen had 24 points and 13 rebounds, Asia Durr scored 19 points and top-seeded Louisville (34-2), at home, quickly pounced on No. 8 seed Marquette (24-10).

Hines-Allen and Durr combined for 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting in the first half after totaling just 13 points in a first-round rout of Boise State. Hines-Allen earned her 16th double-double this season.

OREGON STATE 66, TENNESSEE 59: Third-seeded Tennessee (24-8) lost for the first time at home in tourney history as Marie Gulich had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead sixth-seeded Oregon State (26-7) at Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Vols had been 57-0 at home, with most of those victories coming under late Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt, who led the team to eight national championships. It’s the second straight season Tennessee lost in the second round. It will miss the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s 37-year tournament history.


NORTH CAROLINA STATE 74, MARYLAND 60: Kiara Leslie had 21 points and 11 rebounds against her former team, and fourth-seeded North Carolina State (26-8) beat Maryland (26-8) at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Leslie, who spent three seasons at Maryland before graduating and transferring to N.C. State, finished one point shy of a career high.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.