Ebo’s record-setting performance help Notre Dame advance

Published 8:31 pm Sunday, March 19, 2023

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NOTRE DAME — Host Notre Dame built an 11-point second-half lead and then held on to defeat Mississippi State 53-48 in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Purcell Pavilion Sunday afternoon.

The No. 3-seeded Fighting Irish turned a 26-23 halftime advantage into an 11-point advance with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter. Notre Dame led 41-33 heading into the final 10 minutes of the contest.

The win advances the Fighting Irish to the “Sweet 16” and will play in the Greenville (South Carolina) Region semifinal against Maryland, which defeated Arizona 77-64. That game will be played Saturday.
“I’m almost at a loss for words,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Niele Ivey. “I’m so emotional, happy. This is beyond a dream come true. The resilience and toughness of this team is unbelievable.”

Notre Dame (27-5) was red-hot from the field in the third quarter as it hit 50 percent of its shots from the floor (5-of-10), but did not take advantage of 10 changes at the free throw line to extend its lead even more. The Fighting Irish hit just five of those attempts.

Notre Dame finished shooting 35 percent from the field (17-of-49) and 61 percent from the free throw line (19-of-31) compared to 29 percent from the field (18-of-61) and 56 percent from the free throw line (9-of-16) by Mississippi State.

The Fighting Irish dominated the Bulldogs (22-11) on the glass, outrebounding Mississippi State 49-32. Lauren Ebo grabbed a game-high 18 boards, while Maddy Westbeld had 15 rebounds.

Sonia Citron led Notre Dame with 14 points. Ebo finished with 10 points, while Westbeld and KI Bransford both ended with nine points.

Ebo’s fifth double-double of the year, included five blocks. Her 18 rebounds set a new Notre Dame NCAA Tournament record, surpassing Katryna Gaither’s 1997 record of 16 rebounds.

“I really wanted to win, so I think that was it,” Ebo said. “Keeping them off the board was important for us and somewhere that we had struggled in the past month, so I just wanted to go out there and help us make the Sweet 16.”

Kourtney Weber led the Bulldogs with 14 points. She was the lone Mississippi State player to reach double figures.