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2018 NCAA Women’s Tournament: Villanova falls to No. 1-seed Notre Dame in second round, 98-72

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The Wildcats were hot to start the game, but then the Fighting Irish overwhelmed them in the second half.

-Ryan Bowman/VU Hoops

When Villanova took the court at No. 1 Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion, the home of the Fighting Irish, it was clear that the Wildcats were not intimidated to be playing on the road—or facing off against of the top teams in women’s college basketball. While they battled for the first 20 minutes of the game, the second half didn’t go their way. Despite their hot shooting, they came up short on Sunday night, losing 98-72.

In the first half, the Lady ‘Cats came to the court with great intensity, sinking 10-of-15 long range shots to begin the game. They couldn’t seem to miss, frustrating Notre Dame.

With Alex Louin, Megan Quinn, Jannah Tucker, Kelly Jekot and Adrianna Hahn on the court from the tip, there was a flavor of passion and excitement portrayed, as the Fighting Irish was struggling to defend the Wildcats’ consistent shooting in the first.

However, Notre Dame was able to manage through a physical brand of basketball—owning the glass, rumbling inside, and capitalizing on second chance opportunities or points off turnovers.

The epic first half led to a 45-45 stalemate, after Notre Dame got a basket to tie things up just before the break.

Unfortunately for ‘Nova, things got out of hand in the second half. The Fighting Irish came out swinging to start the third quarter and dominated on both ends of the court.

They outscored Villanova 28-8 in that 10-minute frame, pushing their lead to 20 at one point. The big Notre Dame run was too much for Villanova to overcome, and it put the Fighting Irish in solid position for the Sweet 16.

Notre Dame kept pouring it on, as Villanova’s frustrations grew. Eventually the game was out of reach, a far cry from how things were in the opening half.

Jess Shepard of Notre Dame racked up 25 points and 10 rebounds, seemingly getting her fingerprints on every area or key play of the game. She was aided by Jackie Young and Arike Ogunbowale, who had 24 points each. They also helped dominate the glass, as the Fighting Irish held a 48-19 advantage on the glass.

After shooting the lights out to start the game, the ‘Cats did not bring the same intensity to the second, later going 0-for-5 from deep to close the game. Aside from that, they shot just 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) to close out the game.

On a brighter note for Villanova, Tucker had an exceptional first half, and put up a fight to keep the ‘Cats moving in the second. Tucker was consistent throughout the game, leading the team with 19 points on the board and 7-of-13 shooting from the field. Although the weekend didn’t end as the team would have liked, she had a solid pair of NCAA Tournament games.

Jekot was not far behind, putting up 16 points. Hahn chipped in 11 points.

Unfortunately, this loss marks the end of the road for Villanova. The Wildcats will bid farewell to three seniors--Louin, Quinn, and Nicolette Juliana. They finish the year 23-9.