Notre Dame knocks out Kent State to begin NCAA Tournament

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A No. 2 seed never had lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame had no intention of becoming the first team to do that as it battled Kent State at Purcell Pavilion. With most of the crowd backing them, the Irish held a comfortable lead almost the entire game and advanced to the second round with an 81-67 victory.

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Unlike last year’s first-round game against Southern Utah that pretty much was decided from the opening tip, the Irish (27-6) allowed the Golden Flashes (21-11) to score the first basket of this game and even keep the lead for the first three-and-a-half minutes. But the Irish were finished with generosity after that and proceeded to score 18 unanswered points with sound offense and forcing tough shots on defense.

The Irish mostly coasted from there, leading by as much as 21. There was a brief scare in the fourth quarter when the Flashes cut that lead to 12, but it was a passing threat at best. This wasn’t going to be anything but an Irish victory, especially with them scoring 23 points off 16 Flashes turnovers.

sonia citron was by far the Irish’s best player with a game-high 29 points. Several of her buckets came on passes from Hannah Hidalgo, who achieved a double-double in her first NCAA Tournament game of 14 points and 11 assists despite shooting only 5 of 14 from the field. She also had six steals, five of them coming in the third quarter.

Anna DeWolfe scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half, providing an early offensive spark along with Citron. Maddy Westbeld flirted with her own double-double with nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire