NOTRE DAME, Ind. — No. 4/5 Notre Dame shot 54.8 percent (40-of-73) from the field as the Fighting Irish defeated CSUN 99-81 in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament Friday night.
Destiny Brooks made her first two three-point baskets propelling the Matadors to an early 8-2 lead. Jessica Shepard posted four consecutive points to tie the game for the Fighting Irish. A Tessa Boagni layup put CSUN back into the lead 10-8 at the first quarter media timeout.
The teams were tied five times during the opening stanza. At 14-14, Notre Dame scored nine consecutive points before a Channon Fluker layup with 25 seconds remaining made the score 23-16 which is where it would remain as the buzzer sounded to end the frame.
Notre Dame made 13-of-16 second-quarter field goal attempts, outscoring the Matadors 32-16 in the second period to take a 55-32 lead into the break. Arike Ogunbowale was 7-of-10 from the field in the first half for 18 points while Shepard went 7-of-9 from the floor for 14 first-half points. Fluker charted 17 of the 32 first-half points for CSUN.
CSUN fought back, making 11-of-17 field goal attempts in the third quarter. Tessa Boagni scored 13 making 6-of-8 attempts. The Fighting Irish were 11-of-22 and would only outscore CSUN (19-16) by three (27-24) as Notre Dame led 82-54 after three periods.
Destiny Brooks was 4-of-4 from three-point range in the fourth quarter as the Matadors outscored the Fighting Irish 25-17. Thanks to her fourth-quarter shooting, Brooks tied the CSUN Division I record for most three-pointers in the game with eight. CSUN assistant coach Ashlee Guay set the mark with eight against UC Irvine on Jan. 23, 2014. A freshman, Brooks scored a season-high 24 points.
According to ESPN stats, CSUN’s 81 points are the most scored in a first-round game by a 16 seed since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994. The previous high was 75 points (Grambling in 1998 against Texas Tech).
This was the first time all season that CSUN allowed an opponent to shoot over 50 percent in a game. The Fighting Irish forced 16 Matadors’ turnovers that were turned into 23 points. Ogunbwale led all scorers with 30 points. She was good on 12-of-20 field goal attempts and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Shepard earned a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. She also added seven assists. Marina Mabrey scored 23 points and had seven assists.
Fluker charted her 22nd double-double of the season as she scored a team-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Boagni posted her fifth double-double of the year with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Thanks to a strong second half, the Matadors ended up shooting a season-high 53 percent (35-of-66).
“I’m really proud of the way these women reacted to adversity and continued to fight,” said CSUN head coach Jason Flowers. “In a game against a really good opponent, like they are, we hope that we can control the things we can control, like turnovers. They’re a great team and forced us to get a little loose with the ball.”
Notre Dame (30-3) plays the winner of the South Dakota State-Villanova on Sunday in the second round of the tournament.