No. 4 Notre Dame 79, No. 21 St. Bonaventure 35
Notre Dame guard Brittany Mallory has heard it from her coach’s
husband for the past year. He keeps reminding her of last year’s
loss in the national title game and how it can propel the Fighting
Irish forward this time.
The halfway point of their march toward redemption gave them a
place in history – and came with no drama.
The Irish routed St. Bonaventure 79-35 Sunday in the Raleigh
Regional semifinals, with their 44-point romp matching the
22-year-old record for scoring margin at the regional stage of the
women’s NCAA tournament.
”Every time he sees me, he says, `Chip on the shoulder,”’
Mallory said. ”I think we’ve all been playing with that. It’s been
a big emphasis. The last game last year, we didn’t accomplish what
we wanted, so we’ve just been using that as our main … emphasis
Natalie Novosel scored 16 points, Kalia Turner scored 14 points,
Kayla McBride added 10 points and Devereaux Peters had 10 rebounds
for the top-seeded Irish (33-3).
They shot 52.5 percent, never trailed and led by 45 in advancing
to face second-seeded Maryland (31-4) on Tuesday night with a spot
in the Final Four on the line.
”They’re a strong, strong rebounding team,” coach Muffet
McGraw said of the Terrapins. ”They have great size. We’re a team
that plays four guards. We don’t match up well. They’re much more
physical and so much bigger inside than we are.”
CeCe Dixon had 13 points and Doris Ortega added 11 for the
fifth-seeded Bonnies (31-4), who shot a season-low 19 percent,
allowed a season-high point total and finished with a season-worst
21 turnovers. They missed 11 of 12 attempts from 3-point range and
had just two assists on their nine field goals.
Leading scorer Jessica Jenkins was scoreless – she entered
averaging 14 points – and missed all six of her shots with Mallory
leading the defensive effort that blanketed her.
”They’re really physical with you on cuts,” Jenkins said.
”They don’t even let you set them up or anything. … They’re just
really physical and they’re really, really good at blowing up
screens and running you off the 3-point line.”
The best season in school history – and the Bonnies’ first NCAA
tournament berth – ended in abrupt, decisive fashion after they
couldn’t recover from a disastrous start in which they went
scoreless for more than 10 minutes.
”Forty minutes isn’t going to define our season,” coach Joe
Crowley said. ”It didn’t earlier in the year. It doesn’t right
The Irish have won all three games in this tournament by double
figures. This one equaled the 91-47 beating Louisiana Tech gave
Purdue in the 1990 Midwest semifinals, and it was another
convincing step toward the national championship that slipped away
a year ago.
Calling it unfinished business, they’ve been fueled by their
loss in the 2011 title game to Texas A&M. They would’ve had
another crack at those Aggies in the regional final, had the
Terrapins not rallied to beat them 81-74 in the first
”This is a really competitive group,” McGraw said. ”When you
go down through the team, you kind of realize that they’re all the
type of player that just hates to lose. So when we lost the last
game last year, I think the whole summer workout for them was about
getting back, and kind of had that motivation, that extra
motivation, to try to get back to that.”
Notre Dame made it to a regional final for the fourth time –
they’ve advanced to the Final Four in each of the previous three –
and did it by bringing a quick end to St. Bonaventure’s dream
The Bonnies simply couldn’t have started much worse: After
Ortega’s layup 30 seconds in, they didn’t score again until
Ortega’s three-point play pulled them within 16-5 with 9:32 left in
the half. At its nadir, St. Bonaventure missed 20 of its first 23
shots and didn’t get into double figures until the final minute of
the half when Jennie Ashton’s free throw with 52.2 seconds left
made it 33-10.
The Irish pushed their lead into the 30s when Novosel’s layup
with 17 minutes remaining made it 43-13 – and it only got worse
”My biggest worry the whole time was if we could score,”
Crowley said. ”And, obviously, that came to fruition.”