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Notre Dame women reach Final Four

Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd puts back a rebound for two of her 30 points. She has 21 in the first half, when the Irish open a 44-32 lead.

Associated Press

Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd puts back a rebound for two of her 30 points. She has 21 in the first half, when the Irish open a 44-32 lead.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame's quest for perfection will continue at the Final Four.

Jewell Loyd scored 30 and Notre Dame advanced to the Final Four for a fourth straight season with Monday night's 88-69 win over Baylor.

Natalie Achonwa added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Irish (36-0), who will face Louisville or Maryland on Sunday night in Nashville.

Notre Dame became the sixth school to reach the Final Four in four straight seasons, joining UConn, LSU, Stanford, Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.

"I couldn't be prouder of this team," coach Muffet McGraw said. "This senior class came in unheralded and set all kind of records. To win it at home, to celebrate with our fans is special. Jewell Loyd, what a phenomenal game."

The loss ended the career of Baylor guard Odyssey Sims, who finished this season with 1,054 points — eight short of Jackie Stiles' NCAA record for a season. Sims scored 33 for Baylor (32-5), but had little help. Her teammates shot a combined 12-for-45.

"I had a great run. My four years, I've enjoyed it," Sims said. "Not one moment have I been unhappy at Baylor. I got to play with a lot of great players. This season is probably my most enjoyable."

The Irish took control in the first half with senior Kayla McBride on the bench with early foul trouble. Trailing 21-17 midway through the first half, Loyd and Achonwa got the Irish going. Achonwa, who had a double double in the first half, started a 14-0 run with a layup. Loyd then scored the next eight points, including a three-point play that made it 24-21 and whipped up the sellout crowd that included former Irish star Skylar Diggins.

By the time Sims hit a pullup in the lane with 5:32 left the Bears trailed 31-24. The Irish led 44-32 at the half as Loyd finished with 21 points in the first 20 minutes.

Sims rallied the Bears, scoring the first nine points of the second half to cut the deficit to 46-41. After a Notre Dame basket Baylor committed back-to-back offensive fouls — the eighth and ninth in the game — and coach Kim Mulkey let the officials know her displeasure. That earned her a technical foul.

The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes and Baylor closed to within 65-60 before Notre Dame went on a 16-4 run, helped by eight free throws. The Irish were 30-for-33 from the line in the game.

UCONN 69, TEXAS A&M 54: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis continued her splendid run with 17 points in Lincoln, Neb., and the Huskies advanced to the Final Four for the seventh straight year.

Connecticut (38-0), the defending national champion, won its 44th straight game. Its semifinal opponent Sunday in Nashville will be either Stanford or North Carolina.

Stefanie Dolson, who made her 150th career start to tie the NCAA record, had 14 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high eight blocks. Courtney Walker led the third-seeded Aggies (27-9) with 14 points.

Mosqueda-Lewis, who missed 12 games this season because of injury or illness, was named the region's most outstanding player. She provided a spark after the Huskies found themselves in an early hole.

Women's NCAA Tournament

Region semis Region finals Final Four Championship Final Four Region finals Region semis
lincoln Lincoln, Neb. 1 UConn 70 1 Notre Dame 89 South Bend, Ind. notre dame
1 UConn 69 Nashville 1 N. Dame 88
12 BYU 51 5 Oklahoma St. 72
1 UConn 1 Notre Dame
3 Texas A&M 84 3 Kentucky 72
3 Texas A&M 54 2 Baylor 69
7 DePaul 65 2 Baylor 90
Sunday April 8 Sunday
stanford Stanford, Calif. 1 South Carolina 58 1 Tennessee 62 Louisville, Ky. louisville
4 N. Carolina 4 Maryland
4 North Carolina 65 4 Maryland 73
Tonight Tonight
3 Penn State 57 About 9, ESPN 7, ESPN 3 Louisville 73
2 Stanford 3 Louisville
2 Stanford 82 7 LSU 47
Region semis Region finals Final Four Championship Final Four Region finals Region semis
lincoln Lincoln, Neb. 1 UConn 70 1 Notre Dame 89 South Bend, Ind. notre dame
1 UConn 69 Nashville 1 N. Dame 88
12 BYU 51 5 Oklahoma St. 72
1 UConn 1 Notre Dame
3 Texas A&M 84 3 Kentucky 72
3 Texas A&M 54 2 Baylor 69
7 DePaul 65 2 Baylor 90
Sunday April 8 Sunday
stanford Stanford, Calif. 1 South Carolina 58 1 Tennessee 62 Louisville, Ky. louisville
4 N. Carolina 4 Maryland
4 North Carolina 65 4 Maryland 73
Tonight Tonight
3 Penn State 57 About 9, ESPN 7, ESPN 3 Louisville 73
2 Stanford 3 Louisville
2 Stanford 82 7 LSU 47

Notre Dame women reach Final Four 04/01/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 12:14am]
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