Notre Dame Fighting Irish eliminate Michigan State Spartans women from NCAA tournament
By JOHN FINERAN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Coach Muffet McGraw, top-seed Notre Dame and the home fans held their collective breaths when Jackie Young lost hers during Monday’s 91-63 victory over No. 9 Michigan State in a second-round NCAA Chicago Regional game.
“I’m fine, just a hard foul, nothing to worry about — that’s just basketball,” said Young, who came within three assists of her third triple-double of the season, settling for 21 points and 11 rebounds to match double-doubles with Brianna Turner (14 points and 11 rebounds) for the Fighting Irish (32-3).
Young was fouled by Michigan State’s Tory Ozment with three seconds left in the third quarter of the runaway victory over the Spartans (21-12). Young got up, missed her first free throw, made her second and then went to the bench.
Young returned in the fourth quarter and filled out an impressive line in the box score — 7-of-14 shooting, six of her 11 rebounds on the offensive boards, seven assists, one steal, two blocks.
Arike Ogunbowale led the Irish with 23 points and Jessica Shepard had 19 points and nine rebounds.
Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant thinks Young is the one most responsible for the late-season surge by the Irish — it was their 11th straight victory that put McGraw’s team in its 10th straight Sweet Sixteen this Saturday at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena against No. 4-seed Texas A&M.
“She’s the one that wins them championships,” Merchant said of Young, a 6-foot junior who won most valuable player honors in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. “She’s one of the most powerful, strongest girls I’ve coached against. Give Notre Dame credit. I’m not sure there is a more veteran team on the planet coming off their national championship.”
For the second straight game, MSU was led by Sidney Cooks, who came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 12 rebounds. Jenna
Allen had tears after closing her collegiate career with 12 points. Kayla Belles scored 10. MSU shot just 37.3 percent (25 of 67) for the game.
Young showed off her versatility in the first half that Notre Dame dominated 52-26.