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Irish look for revenge against Stanford in Elite Eight

(WNDU)
Published: Mar. 25, 2017 at 1:51 PM EDT
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A year ago, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team walked into Rupp Arena expecting to advance to their sixth straight Final Four. Instead, Stanford shocked the Irish, beating them 90-84 in the Sweet 16, and ending their season much earlier than anyone anticipated.

Now, Notre Dame finds themselves in a familiar situation, with revenge – and a bid to the Final Four – on their mind.

“All summer long, that’s all we had in the back of our minds,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We just do not want our season to end like it did last year.”

For those that were in the locker room for last year’s game, those painful memories are still fresh.

“I remember being in this locker room and our seniors crying, and just being heartbroken,” Irish junior forward Kat Westbeld said. “I think that just gives us even more motivation than we already have to advance to the Final Four.”

“We lost,” Irish sophomore guard Marina Mabrey said. “That’s really all that matters to me. They probably did better stuff than us, I was just a freshman, but I just want to beat them.”

For McGraw, last year’s game can be summed up in one word.

“Regret,” McGraw said. “I think just disappointment for the seniors. I remember being in this locker room with the seniors, last year and how disappointed they were.”

While the desire is undoubtedly there, the Irish know it’ll take more than that to beat a talented Cardinal team.

“They’re super disciplined,” Mabrey said. “They really stick to their stuff, get stops defensively. They have all the pieces – a shooter, a good inside player, a good point guard.”

“Always well prepared,” Irish senior guard Lindsay Allen said. “With their coach, Coach VanDerveer, she’s such a smart basketball mind, they’re always going to be well prepared with their assistant coaches and stuff. They’re a very smart team as well, so they’re going to attack our weaknesses.”

Two years ago Notre Dame ended Stanford’s season, knocking them out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16, before the Cardinal returned the favor last year. The rubber match is set for Sunday at noon, with a trip to the Final Four awaiting the winner.