FINAL: Fighting Irish dismantle Spartans in second round matchup
No. 9 seeded Michigan State (21-12) fell 91-63 to defending NCAA Tournament Champions Notre Dame (32-3) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans started 3-3 from the field but quickly lost their rhythm against an aggressive Fighting Irish defense, who held MSU scoreless for almost five minutes in the first quarter.
Notre Dame dominated the second quarter with a 13-1 run midway through the quarter and were able to draw nine fouls from MSU in the first half.
The rapid switch between man-to-man and zone defense calls Notre Dame was able to quickly execute, showcased the Spartans struggled to counter with their strong perimeter shooting. Notre Dame doubled the lead, with a buzzer beater from senior guard Arike Ogunbowale, to 52-26 at halftime.
The Fighting Irish out-rebounded Suzy Merchant’s tall post team, 31-17 in the first half as well as scoring 32 points in the paint.
MSU shot 29.4 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from beyond the arc and 57.1 percent from the line. Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks lead with nine points and three rebounds, followed by senior center Jenna Allen’s eight points and two rebounds.
Notre Dame 50 percent from the field, 0-4 beyond the arc and 71.4 percent from the line. Senior forward Jessica Shepard lead with 14 points and six rebounds, followed by Ogunbowale’s 13 points and three rebounds and junior guard Jackie Young’s 13 points and eight rebounds.
The second half continued to showcase the athleticism of Notre Dame’s starters. Young finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, Ogunbowale had 23 points, four rebounds and five assists and Shepard had 19 points, nine rebounds and two assists. The Fighting Irish bench would only score 12 points and would ultimately pull of the 91-63 victory.
The Spartans showcased some of their freshmen with back-to-back three pointers for Tory Ozment and four paint points for Kayla Belles in the third quarter. The duo would play significant minutes in the fourth quarter as well.
Notre Dame finished the night shooting 47.9 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from three point range and 68 percent from the line.
MSU finished shooting 37.3 percent from the field, 26.3 percent from behind the arc and 61.5 percent from the line. Cooks led with 17 points and 12 points, while Allen finished her career as a Spartan with 12 points and five rebounds.