Fighting Irish host Montana tonight

Published 8:28 am Friday, March 20, 2015

Notre Dame will open up its 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament by hosting Montana at 7:30 p.m. today.

The game can be seen live on ESPN2 and heard on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1).

The Fighting Irish (31-2) are a No. 1 seed for the fourth consecutive year. The Lady Griz come into tonight’s game as a No.16 seed. Montana is 24-8 this season.

This will be the second time in school history that Notre Dame has faced the Lady Griz. The Fighting Irish lost their only other meeting 50-48 in the consolation game of the 1986 Seattle Times Classic.

“We expected to be in (the) Oklahoma City (Region),” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “The tournament selection committee knew they needed South Carolina in Greensboro to have a great crowd there. We’re excited where we are, just to be able to play at home. We’ve got a really tough pod, probably the toughest 16-seed in the country with a team like Montana with 21 NCAA appearances, they’re no stranger to the tournament.”

Notre Dame is not looking for redemption. The Fighting Irish are looking to reach the Final Four for the seventh time, including four consecutive trips (2011-2014).

Notre Dames has been the national runner-up three of the last four years. The Fighting Irish lost to Texas A&M 76-70 in 2011, Baylor 80-61 in 2012 and Connecticut 79-58 last season.

Notre Dame is led by ESPNW Player of the Year Jewell Loyd, who is averaging 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer are also averaging double figures. Turner is averaging 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds per game, which Reimer is averaging 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds.

In the first game, which tips off at 5 p.m., Minnesota (23-9, 6th in Big Ten) will take on DePaul (26-7, Big East Champions).

The Gophers are the No. 8 seed, while the Blue Demons are the No. 9 seed.

This will be the second meeting between the two schools. Minnesota defeated DePaul 82-64 in the 1982 Dial Classic in Minneapolis.