Notre Dame beats Stanford 81-60, advances to Elite Eight

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Lindsay Allen normally focuses on setting others up.

On Friday, the sophomore point guard turned into a scorer, dropping in a career-high 28 points to help top-seeded Notre Dame defeat Stanford 81-60 in the NCAA women’s Sweet 16.

Allen entered the night averaging just under 10 points per game, but she matched her career high with 24 points in the first half alone.

”Our posts did a really good job of setting screens, and we were just reading the defense really well and getting open shots for our offense,” Allen said.

Jewell Loyd scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half for the Fighting Irish (34-2), who advanced to play Baylor (33-3) on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four. The Fighting Irish beat Baylor 88-69 in a regional final last year.

Loyd, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, did her part to open things up for the Fighting Irish and make the rematch with Baylor possible.

”She did a really good job in the second half, but she is going to draw the most attention, which is why you see Lindsay Allen making so many shots,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Bonnie Samuelson scored 17 points and Erica McCall and Amber Orrange each added 12 for No. 4 seed Stanford (26-10).

It was the first postseason meeting for veteran coaches McGraw and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, and just the third-ever meeting between the schools. Stanford won the previous meetings in 1990 and 1991.

This one turned into a blowout in the second half.

”I just think we lost to a really outstanding team,” VanDerveer said. ”Congratulate Notre Dame and Muffet. I thought our team played really well. They had some outstanding players, and they played a really great game.”

Allen scored nine quick points to help the Irish take a 20-11 lead.

The Cardinal trimmed it to 34-29 with about 3 minutes left in the first half before Allen drained two 3-pointers to help the Fighting Irish close the half on an 8-2 run and take a 42-31 lead into the break.

Stanford cut its deficit to 48-44 early in the second half before Loyd got going. Her 3-point play with just over 10 minutes remaining put Notre Dame up 59-47. The Fighting Irish shot 52 percent in the second half to pull away.

”Jewell Loyd is probably the (national) player of the year,” VanDerveer said. ”We were just dodging some bullets in the first half, and she picked it up in the second half.”

Now, the Fighting Irish can look ahead.

”We’ll be dialed in at practice tomorrow,” Notre Dame guard Hannah Huffman said. ”Coach will come up with a great game plan, and I cannot wait.”

TIP-INS

Stanford: Lili Thompson tweaked her left knee and played just seven minutes in the first half, but she returned to start the second half. The team’s top scorer for the season finished with just two points on 1 for 8 shooting. … Stanford had 17 offensive rebounds, but just 14 second-chance points.

Notre Dame: Loyd, the team’s top scorer for the season, made just 2 of 10 field goals and scored four points in the first half. … Notre Dame committed just four turnovers in the first 20 minutes. … The Fighting Irish made all 13 of their free throws.

STAT LINES:

Samuelson made 5 of 8 3-pointers, but her teammates missed all seven of their 3s. Overall, the Cardinal shot just 35 percent from the field.

”I think the key factor honestly was our defense,” Notre Dame guard Michaela Mabrey said. ”Our guards are really good off the ball screen, and we worked all week on just preparing for that.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Orrange, a senior, on her favorite memory from the season: ”There’s too many to describe. The top three would be beating UConn, winning the Pac-12 Tournament and fulfilling my last wish, which was to get here to the Sweet 16.”

UP NEXT

Stanford: Season over.

Notre Dame: Faces Baylor in Oklahoma City Regional final on Sunday.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .