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University of Minnesota

Gophers down Irish

March 23, 2009

Katie Ohm dribbles past a Notre Dame player.

Katie Ohm drives past a Notre Dame player in the Gophers' 79-71 victory over the Irish on Sunday. Ohm finished the game with 15-points, all on three-pointers.

Photo courtesy Sylvia Hesse

Women's basketball team defeats Notre Dame to advance in NCAA tourney

By Rick Moore

The Gopher men's and women's basketball and hockey teams were scattered halfway across the country over the weekend seeking success in post-season tournaments. Unfortunately, three of the four teams saw their seasons come to an end.

The women's hockey team bowed out to Mercyhurst 5-4 in the semifinals of the Frozen Four in Boston on Friday; the men's hockey team lost to 2-1 UMD in the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul on Thursday night, dashing its hopes for an NCAA tournament bid; and the men's basketball team dropped its first-round NCAA tournament game to Texas 76-62 in Greensboro, North Carolina, also on Thursday night.

The only luck of the weekend came Sunday for the women's basketball team at the home of the Irish. The No. 10 seed Gophers went into South Bend, Indiana, and knocked off No. 7 seed Notre Dame 79-71 in a first-round NCAA tournament game. They'll now move on to the round of 32 against No. 2 seed Texas A&M Tuesday at 6 p.m., also in South Bend.

The Gophers (20-11) jumped out early against the Irish, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots and taking a 42-30 lead at the half. Both teams found themselves shorthanded in the second half. Notre Dame's leading scorer Lindsay Schrader was relegated to the bench after suffering back spasms. And Minnesota had to play most of the half without Brittany McCoy and Jackie Voigt, both of whom were in foul trouble.

The Irish made a number of runs, but the Gophers were able to withstand every one. When Notre Dame cut the lead to 55-53 about midway through the second half, Katie Ohm responded for the Gophers by hitting three straight three-pointers in a span of three minutes, which pushed the lead back to eight points. The Gophers never trailed by less than seven after that.

Senior guard Emily Fox led Minnesota with a game-high 23 points. Ohm finished with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting from three-point range, and Zoe Harper came off the bench to establish an important inside presence, grabbing 13 rebounds in 20 minutes of playing time. Ashley Ellis-Milan also added 10 points.

"I'm really proud of our team, and I'm really happy for this group to be able to pull off this win today," Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said after the game. "It was a great team effort. Everybody contributed on both ends of the floor in a great college women's basketball environment. It was a great win, and we did all the necessary things to win this basketball game."

Texas A&M (25-7) finished tied for third in the Big 12 conference with a record of 11-5. The Aggies beat Evansville 80-45 in their first-round game on Sunday.

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