CHICAGO (AP) - Arike Ogunbowale scored a career-high 34 points, Jessica Shepard added 24 points and 14 rebounds, and defending national champion Notre Dame beat Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, 87-80 on Saturday.
"We're lucky," Irish senior guard Marina Mabrey said. "I'm happy we won. I mean, we really have to come out ready to play."
"Well, you know, it's win or go home, and you have to buckle down defensively for 40 minutes," Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw said. "I mean we waited until the second half, then we waited till six minutes left in the game, we kept waiting for the time when we were going to defend. I think we can do better."
Ogunbowale scored 12 in the final 6:45 to help the top-seeded Fighting Irish (33-3) advance to the Elite Eight of the women's NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine years. They will play No. 2 seed Stanford in the Chicago Region final on Monday.
Ogunbowale, the Irish's career scoring leader, surpassed her previous high of 32 points. Shepard dominated down low, and Notre Dame got a sweet repeat to go with its 12th straight win.
"She made big shot after big shot when we really needed it," McGraw said of Ogunbowale. "She had a huge three, Jackie's jumper was huge, the steal Arike got at halfcourt for the finish, that was big."
"It's just the moment," Ogunbowale said. "I mean that was an exciting game, close game, I mean it's the Sweet 16 and especially it's the last year, and I'm going to give it all I have."
"She's an intense player, you know she has the staredown the whole entire game," Irish senior forward Brianna Turner said. "I had to tell her, 'Don't stare down too hard,' but she's such an exciting player to watch. She's one of the best players in the country."
Chennedy Carter led Texas A&M (26-8) with a season-high 35 points in another impressive NCAA performance. The sophomore guard came in averaging just over 30 points in five career tournament games and came out connecting again, nailing 7 of 12 3-pointers.
Kayla Wells scored 18. But it was an all-too-familiar result against Notre Dame for the fourth-seeded Aggies.
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