End of line for short-handed Notre Dame women's basketball in Sweet 16 loss to Oregon State

by 24USATVMarch 29, 2024, 10:01 p.m. 20
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ALBANY, N.Y. — The Notre Dame women's basketball team lost 70-65 in the Sweet 16 to Oregon State on Friday afternoon in the Albany regional.

The No. 2 seeded Fighting Irish couldn't overcome an off night from their leading scorer Hannah Hidalgo, who had 10 points on 3 of 17 shooting and only two field goals in the second half.

No. 3 seed Oregon State leaned on its talented front court of Timea Gardiner and Raegan Beers. They each had double-doubles with Gardiner putting up 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while Beers had 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Beavers overcame turning the ball over a season-high 26 times, the most turnovers for the program since 2017-18.

More:How Hannah Hidalgo is stealing the show for Notre Dame women's basketball

Notre Dame women's basketball doesn't go down without a fight

Gardiner dropped in a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half.

The Beavers carried that momentum into the third quarter by going on a 14-2 run while going 5 of 6 from the field. Gardiner had seven points during the stretch that gave her team a 43-33 lead, the largest of the game for either team.

Notre Dame showed plenty of poise by chipping away at the lead. The Fighting Irish fought back tie the game on their final possession of the quarter and took their first lead of the second half with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter when Natalija Marshall knocked down a long two for her first basket of the game.

It remained a one-possession game down the stretch until OSU got back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Donovyn Hunter and Lily Hansford with under three minutes to go.

Both of the 3-pointers came off offensive rebounds.

More:How Olivia Miles is helping Notre Dame women's basketball even without suiting up for NCAAs

Notre Dame kept pace with Oregon State while Hannah Hidalgo and Maddy Westbeid had to spend extended stretches on the bench during the first half.

Injuries have decimated the Fighting Irish’s depth this season — the most recent of which was Kylee Watson suffering a torn ACL in the ACC tournament — and they are only playing six players.

Hidalgo sat out the first 4:49 of the second quarter to have her nose ring removed. While the freshman played with the stud piercing throughout the year, the NCAA rules prohibit jewelry. She sat on the far end of the bench while multiple trainers worked to pull it out.

The freshman guard led Notre Dame with 22.9 points, 5.6 assists and 4.6 steals per game this season and earned first-team All-American honors. She had a shot stuffed by Beers later in the game that left her visibility frustrated. Hidalgo struggled to get into a rhythm going 2 of 14 through the first three quarters.

More:Muffet McGraw on Notre Dame women's basketball injuries: 'We’ve proven you can win with 6'

Notre Dame wasn’t at full strength for long in the second quarter once Hidalgo checked back in.

Maddy Westbeld, who was tasked with guarding Beers, checked out with 4:00 to go after picking up her third foul. She had nine points (4 of 6) in the half.

Oregon State’s size was evident right from the start.

The Beavers outrebounded Notre Dame 23-9 in the first half and six offensive rebounds. They made an effort to pound the ball down low to Beers, a 6-foot-4 forward, who had 12 points and seven rebounds at the half. She drew double-teams in the paint every time she touched the ball.

Notre Dame neutralized that advantage by scoring 14 points off 12 turnovers in the first half. Oregon State nearly matched its season average of 13.3 turnovers per game in just 20 minutes of play.

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