Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
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Notre Dame lived by the three-point shot on Friday night by converting a season high 12 beyond the arc in a 99-76 romp versus Ohio State.
On Sunday afternoon, it died by the trey — on both ends of the floor — with a 76-75 loss to Stanford.
Ranked No. 2 at the end of the regular season, Notre Dame finished 33-4 while getting eliminated by the Cardinal (32-5) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., for the second straight year.
In a game that had 10 ties and 18 lead changes, Stanford went ahead for good with 22.8 seconds left on an Alanna Smith lay-in. Notre Dame aggressively took the ball to the rim twice in the closing seconds but was unable to convert.
First, senior point guard Lindsay Allen (10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) drove into the lane but her six-foot floater grazed off the rim and fell out-of-bounds and off Stanford with 2.2 seconds left.
After a timeout on both ends, sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale (25 points) took the in-bounds feed and appeared to have an open look for a mid-range shot. She opted to take a quick dribble to the basket, but her shot was blocked from behind by 6-3 Erika McCall as time expired.
On the first possession of the second half, Irish sophomore guard Marina Mabrey (20 points, three steals) tallied to give Notre Dame its biggest lead of the game at 47-31.
Thereafter, Stanford took over with its own barrage of threes to lead the comeback. Last year in the same venue the Cardinal converted 11-of-20 from three-point range, headlined by Karlie Samuelson’s 5-of-6, to upset the Irish 90-84 in the Sweet 16.
This year it was 12-of-26 beyond the arc, with Samuelson finishing 5-of-8 and Brittany McPhee 5-of-9. McPhee finished with a game high 27 points while drilling 10 of her 17 shots from the floor.
On the flip side, Notre Dame was 6-of-21 from three — and only 2-of-10 in the second half.
The Irish took the lead twice in the final 1:12, first on two free throws by Allen (73-72) and then a pull-up jumper by Allen with 39 seconds left (75-74), but were unable to make the stops on defense.
Tale Of Two Quarters/Halves
Trailing 24-22 after the first quarter, the Fighting Irish used an 18-0 run over a 6:34 span in the second quarter to build a 45-31 halftime lead. Sparking the explosive 10 minutes was Ogunbowale, who had 21 first-half points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, mainly on aggressive drives and pull-up jumpers.
Aiding the run was foul trouble for Stanford sharpshooter Samuelson, who drained three treys in the first quarter on four attempts but sat on the sidelines with two fouls during most of Notre Dame’s 18-0 run that was a clinic like the one versus the Buckeyes two nights earlier.
After converting 9-of-15 from the floor (60 percent) in the first quarter, Stanford was 2-of-15 in the second (13.3 percent) while getting outscored 23-7 in those 10 minutes to trail 45-31 at the intermission.
In the third quarter, there was a complete reversal of fortune for both squads. A Mabrey jumper to open the second half gave the Irish their biggest lead of the contest (47-31) before the Cardinal began their own hot streak. Focusing on Ogunbowale with multiple players and more size, Stanford limited her to 1-of-6 from the field in the second half. The Cardinal converted 63 percent from the field in the third quarter while Notre Dame made only 25 percent, leading them to get out-scored 24-12 in that 10-minute session.
Mabrey was the centerpiece of the Notre Dame offense in the second half, although she was only 2-of-8 from three-point range in the contest. One of the makes edged Notre Dame in front 69-68, and then her drive and score gave it a 71-70 advantage. Her drives and ability to finish with either hand were the main bright spot after the offense went into more one-on-one or play-not-to-lose stagnation that it experienced in the fourth quarter of the overtime win against Purdue last Sunday.
The only other three for Notre Dame in the second half came from Erin Boley (nine points on 3-of-7 beyond the arc) for a short-lived 64-61 lead before Samuelson answered on the other end.
Notre Dame, which committed only four turnovers, finished the second half 11-of-31 from the field overall (35.5 percent) — almost identical to Stanford’s 11-of-30 in the first half.
• Notre Dame was 7-0 in Elite 8 contests — the best record in the NCAA for teams with at least five appearances — before the one-point setback.
• Another winning streak that came to end for the Irish was 42 straight victories on a Sunday, including 11-0 this season prior to today. The most recent Sunday loss was to UConn in the Final Four on April 7, 2013, Skylar Diggins’ final contest with the Irish after going 7-1 in the eight previous meeting with the Huskies.
• It was the 149th consecutive and final start for Allen, which is believed to be an NCAA record. She has started every game since the beginning of her freshman year, during which the Irish were 139-10.
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