Seniors lead Irish women to NCAA tourney win

Seniors never want their careers to end.

A great example of that was in West Lafayette on Sunday.

Tulyah Gaines and Charel Allen broke a 57-57 tie by leading Notre Dame on a 14-0 run in the closing minutes as the Irish advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament with a 75-62 win over SMU.

5th-seeded Notre Dame will face 4th-seeded Oklahoma in the 2nd round on Tuesday night at approximately 9:30 at Mackey Arena. The winner face either #1 Tennessee or #9 Purdue. The Lady Vols and Lady Boilers will play in the 1st game in West Lafayette on Tuesday at 7pm.

The Irish led by as many as 17 points in the 1st half only to see Southern Methodist battle back to tie it up with five minutes left in the game on a Brittany Gilliam bucket.

On the next possession, Gaines turned it over but hustled back and took a huge charge to give the Irish the ball back.

"Anytime something bad happens, you just have to get back on defense," Gaines said afterwards with a huge smile on her face. "That's what I was thinking."

"I knew I couldn't get another foul and that I had to take the charge. By the grace of God, they called the charge so I'm happy."

Head coach Muffet McGraw called it the biggest play of the game.

"I thought that was so was huge," McGraw said. "It was play of the game because we didn't allow them to take the lead."

"If they got the lead, they would have gotten a lot more confident."

Allen immediately responded with a beautiful fadeaway jumper.

Gaines then came up with a steal and a bucket.

Allen picked up an offensive board and a putback.

And suddenly the Irish were on a 14-0 run.

"We don't want to lose yet," Allen said. "We're just so excited that we have one more game to play on Tuesday and we'll go from there."

Allen scored 14 points and had 11 rebounds.

"It feels amazing," Gaines said. "Its very exciting. We get to keep playing."

"That's all you want to do is keep on playing. I never want it to end so I'm really excited."

The win is the second straight at Mackey Arena for the Irish, which lost its first nine games at Purdue's home arena.

And for the second straight game, junior Ashley Barlow had a huge game. With plenty of family and friends in attendance from Indy, Barlow led the Irish with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals.

Becca Bruszewski returned to the Irish for her first quality minutes in a more than a month due to a broken finger.

The freshman was fantastic, scoring 16 points in 27 minutes.

Notre Dame will need her on Tuesday as they face Oklahoma. The Sooners have two of the best post players in the country in the Paris twins.

Irish sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner did not play in the 2nd half after slamming her head on the court late in the 1st. Doctors are still determining whether the South Bend native suffered a concussion.

Her status for Tuesday's game is unknown.


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