Notre Dame (33-2) the number one seed on a 26-game winning streak was supposed to cruise through the Sweet Sixteen and eventually head to their sixth straight Women's Final Four appearance. Stanford (27-7) a four seed, was not expected to advance too far in this tournament and indeed the Cardinal snuck out of the second round in a nail-biter. In other words, it was generally accepted that Notre Dame would defeat Stanford and the Cardinal's season would end Friday night in Lexington, Kentucky. Fortunately for Nerd Nation, that is not what happened at all.
The Cardinal offense was on fire Friday night with forward Erica McCall scoring 27 (a career high), guard Karlie Samuelson scoring 20, and forward Kaylee Johnson adding another 17. Guard Lili Thompson added another 11 points as well as 9 assists, two rebounds and a blocked shot. As great as the offense was, the Stanford defense was just as good. The Cardinal kept ACC Player of the Year Brianna Turner scoreless in the first half and the Irish shot below 50% for the game.
Stanford controlled most of the contest. The Cardinal held a double digit lead at halftime and were up by as many as 15 at one point. The Irish, however, did not give up so easily. Notre Dame clawed their way back into this game in the second half. The Irish trailed by only three with only two minutes left. Notre Dame has proven their ability to win close games in the past, but Stanford Guard Karlie Samuelson nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 1:31 left in the game and the Irish never recovered.
Stanford will take on a conference rival the Washington Huskies in the Elite 8. That game can be seen Sunday, March 27, at 10am pst on ESPN.
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