Notre Dame beats Baylor, advances to 5th straight Final Four
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Lindsay Allen scored 23 points to help top-seeded Notre Dame defeat Baylor 77-68 in the Oklahoma City regional final Sunday and reach its fifth consecutive Final Four.
Allen, who scored a career-high 28 points in the regional semifinal win over Stanford on Friday, followed that by making 10 of 16 shots and dropping seven assists. She was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional.
Michaela Mabrey scored 14 points and Jewell Loyd added 13 points for the Fighting Irish (35-2), who won their 21st straight game. Notre Dame will play South Carolina next Sunday.
Nina Davis had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Sune Agbuke had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Niya Johnson added 10 assists for second-seeded Baylor (33-4), which had hoped to avenge an 88-69 loss to Notre Dame in last year's regional final.
A 3-pointer by Madison Cable gave Notre Dame a 60-56 lead, and a pair of free throws by Loyd pushed the advantage to six with just under 10 minutes to play.
Agbuke, Baylor's 6-foot-4 center, picked up her fourth foul with just over 9 minutes to play, and Notre Dame continued to attack the basket. Cable's runner with just under a minute to go put Notre Dame up 74-68, and the Fighting Irish held on at the free-throw line.
Baylor made 12 of its first 18 shots to take a 26-17 lead. Baylor led 27-21 when Agbuke was called for a flagrant foul. Notre Dame's Brianna Turner hit two free throws, then Mabrey made a 3-pointer to cut Baylor's lead to a point. Mabrey made another 3-pointer to make it 31-all with just over 6 minutes left in the first half.
Notre Dame finally took the lead on a jumper by Allen with 12 seconds left in the first half that gave the Fighting Irish a 39-37 lead at the break.
Baylor: The Lady Bears shot 49 percent in the first half. ... Agbuke played a season-high 35 minutes. Her previous high was 32 minutes against Iowa on Friday. The senior never played more than 26 minutes in a game this season until the Sweet 16. ... Johnson had 46 assists and two turnovers in the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame: Loyd got hit hard on a screen in the closing seconds of the first half and remained seated on the court as time expired. She appeared a bit woozy when she got up and was helped to the locker room. She started the second half. ... Loyd made just 2 of 9 shots in the first half and just 5 for 18 for the game.
Baylor: Season over.
Notre Dame: Plays South Carolina in Final Four on Sunday.