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Notre Dame heads to ACC final for 4th straight year

Notre Dame heads to ACC final for 4th straight year

By Doug Feinberg, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 4, 2017 at 8:33 p.m.

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CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — With most of her teammates in foul trouble, Marina Mabrey took over to get Notre Dame back to the ACC Tournament finals.

Mabrey scored 26 points to help No. 3 Notre Dame beat 14th-ranked Louisville 84-73 on Saturday in the conference semis.

"I thought Marina did a really great job in a lot of ways," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I thought first when Lindsay (Allen) got her second foul she could play an entire quarter at the point, which she really hasn't done all year long, and kept us even. That was really big for us."

The Fighting Irish (29-3) advanced to the title game for the fourth straight year. They are looking to become only the second team in conference history to win both the regular season and tournament crowns in four consecutive seasons. Duke did it from 2001-04.

Notre Dame will play the 13th-ranked Blue Devils in the championship game on Sunday.

Trailing 35-33 early in the third quarter, the Irish went on an 11-2 run to take a 44-37 advantage. Mabrey scored nine of the points, converting two 3-point plays and hitting a 3-pointer.

Asia Durr did her best to keep the Cardinals in the game, scoring 26 points to lead Louisville (27-7), but it wasn't enough.

"I thought Durr was unbelievable. I mean, she made so many huge shots with somebody almost right on her. I thought she was fabulous today. She just hit so many big 3s," McGraw said. "We'd get up and think we could just get a stop, we'd be OK, but we really had trouble stopping her."

Notre Dame was up by two heading into the fourth and wouldn't relinquish the advantage despite Allen, Brianna Turner and Jackie Young all having four fouls. Turner and Young each finished with 16 points.

Louisville's Myisha Hines-Allen, who played only a minute in the first meeting between the teams because of a knee injury, made her presence felt in the first half. She had 12 points, hitting six of seven shots, to help the Cardinals keep pace with the Irish. She finished with 20 points.

Neither team could get more than a five-point lead in the opening 20 minutes.


"We got 1½ weeks before we figure out who we will play in the NCAA Tournament, our goal is to win six games," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "That's something you can't wait for next Monday on the draw. You've got to continue to start doing it now."


Notre Dame had just five turnovers to Louisville's 18. When the teams met the first time, the Irish had just four turnovers.

"You know, we played them at Notre Dame and set a record. We only had four turnovers in the game, so we had five today. I don't think we can play better than that," McGraw said. "I thought we played a really smart game, got the ball to the right people, took good care of it, and forced them into 18, which was huge. We got a couple of breakaway layups in the second half that really, really were key."


Louisville: Earned the No. 5 seed in the tournament and beat Clemson 68-46 before edging N.C. State 59-58 on Friday.

Notre Dame: Earned the top seed in the tournament and routed Virginia 76-59 on Friday.


Future Coastal Carolina student Savannah Thompson sang a stirring rendition of the national anthem. She was born with Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder that also causes a heart defect. The crowd sang along and gave Thompson a rousing ovation at the end.


Louisville: With the top 16 teams poised to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals are on the bubble to become hosts. ... Louisville has advanced to the semifinals of a conference tournament in five consecutive seasons.

Notre Dame: Allen has started 144 games at Notre Dame, matching Skylar Diggins for the school record for most total career starts. ... The Irish have won 11 consecutive ACC Tournament games, the longest run since North Carolina won 13 in a row from 2005-09. Throwing in Notre Dame's time in the Big East, the team has won 14 straight conference tournament games.


Louisville: Wait for the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: Faces Duke in the ACC title game on Sunday.


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Doug Feinberg


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