Fighting Irish give Cowgirls the blues
South Bend, Ind. • Natalie Achonwa gave the home fans plenty to cheer about.
The senior forward helped Notre Dame race out to a 14-point lead and cruise to an easy win, ending Oklahoma State's hopes of winning its first NCAA tournament semifinal regional game.
Achonwa finished with 23 points, a career-high five blocked shots and two steals in the 89-72 victory on Saturday, yet that isn't what impressed Cowgirls coach Jim Littell about the 6-foot-3 senior forward. He said she's most dangerous when passing.
"You turn your head and she's going to zip one right by your ear and hit somebody for an open layup or a two-footer," he said. "When you have the ability to score on the box but you also have the ability to beat people with the pass, it makes you a special player."
The most impressive of Achonwa's six assists was a behind-the-back pass around the back of an Oklahoma State defender for an easy basket inside by Madison Cable to give the Irish a 40-24 lead.
Notre Dame (35-0) is a victory away from its fourth straight Final Four berth, while the Cowgirls (25-9) fell to 0-3 in regional semifinals.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw credited the sellout crowd of 8,774 with getting the Irish going.
"There's no question when we came out to see that sea of green and to hear the excitement and feel the electricity. What a phenomenal atmosphere for a game," she said. "I thought the roof might come off the crowd was so loud."
Oklahoma State's Brittney Martin, from Syracuse High, was 3-for-15 for six points.
Baylor 90, Kentucky 72 • In South Bend, Ind., Odyssey Sims scored 25 points, including her 1,000th this season, to lead No. 2 seed Baylor to a rout of third-seeded Kentucky.
Sims became only the second player to reach that milestone in a single season. She is 41 points behind Jackie Stiles' record of 1,062 for one year set in 2001.
Texas A&M 84, DePaul 65 • In Lincoln, Neb. Courtney Walker scored 25 points, and No. 3 seed Texas A&M beat seventh-seeded DePaul.
The Aggies (27-8) led by 14 points at halftime and turned back two DePaul runs to move to a Monday night game against defending national champion Connecticut.
• Baylor 90, Kentucky 72• Notre Dame 89,Oklahoma State 72• UConn 70, BYU 51• Texas A&M 85, DePaul 65
• Maryland vs. Tennessee, 10 a.m., ESPN• LSU vs. Louisville,12:30 p.m., ESPN2• Penn State vs. Stanford, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2• North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2