ACCWBB in NCAA Sweet 16: Notre Dame Falls to Stanford

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP and und.com) - Erica McCall scored a career-high 27 points and No. 4 seed Stanford stunned No. 1 seed Notre Dame, 90-84, on Friday night in an NCAA Lexington Regional semifinal, ending the Fighting Irish's bid for a sixth straight Final Four appearance.

Stanford (27-7) advanced to the regional final Sunday against No. 7 seed Washington, which upset No. 3 seed Kentucky 85-72 in the other semifinal. Stanford beat Washington during the regular season and lost to the Huskies in the Pac-12 Tournament.

After trailing by as many as 15 points, Notre Dame (33-2) cut it to 81-78 on Madison Cable's basket with 2:05 left. Stanford's Karlie Samuelson, who scored 20 points, answered by banking in a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring with 1:31 remaining.

Stanford stayed ahead by at least four the rest of the way and overcame Notre Dame's uncanny ability to win close games.

Before Friday, Notre Dame had won its last 27 games that had either been decided in single digits or had gone to overtime. The Fighting Irish hadn't lost a game by a single-digit margin since falling 63-54 to Connecticut in the 2012 Big East tournament.

Lindsay Allen scored 20 points for Notre Dame. Brianna Turner added 16 points - all in the second half - and 10 rebounds. Cable had 12 points.

Kaylee Johnson had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Stanford, which shot 55.9 percent (33 of 59) from the floor. Lili Thompson and Marta Sniezek each added 11 points.

The two teams met in the Sweet 16 for a second straight year after Notre Dame beat the Cardinal, 81-60, in last year's Oklahoma City Regional semifinal.

Stanford wasted no time demonstrating this game would have a much different feel.

The Cardinal had 50 points by halftime against a Notre Dame defense that had been allowing just 60.4 points per game. Stanford shot 64.5 percent (20 of 31) overall and 67 percent (6 of 9) from 3-point range in the first half before heading into the locker room with an 11-point edge.

McCall was the biggest reason for Stanford's first-half superiority.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer had called McCall one of the nation's most improved players Thursday. McCall backed up her coach's comment Friday by dominating her frontcourt matchup with Turner in the early going.

McCall had 19 points by halftime. Turner, selected by Atlantic Coast Conference coaches as the league's player of the year, was scoreless in the first half.

Stanford extended its lead to 15 early in the third quarter and responded to every challenge Notre Dame offered the rest of the way.

When Marina Mabrey's 3-pointer cut the lead to seven in the third quarter, Stanford answered with a 7-0 run. After Lindsay Allen's basket got Notre Dame within 67-61 with 8:16 left, Samuelson's 3-pointer helped Stanford regain momentum.

And then Samuelson banked in the biggest 3-pointer of all in the closing minutes.

TIP-INS

Notre Dame: Niele Ivey was selected Friday as the inaugural winner of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division I Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Ivey, who played on Notre Dame's 2001 national championship team, is in her ninth season on the Fighting Irish staff.

Stanford: The Cardinal shot for the highest percentage of any Notre Dame opponent all season. Before Friday, nobody had shot better than 52.4 percent from the floor against Notre Dame.