Women's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Spokane Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

Spokane Regional Elite Eight Game Breakdown
#1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Oregon
The top seeds have made it to the Elite Eight in the Spokane Regional as Notre Dame and Oregon both won their Sweet 16 games on Saturday. The Fighting Irish rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat Texas A&M 90-84 in a very entertaining contest. Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, including 17 in the second half. Marina Mabrey had 25 points, including seven three-pointers, which was huge for the Fighting Irish. The game was very streaky as both teams went on scoring runs against each other but Notre Dame’s 11-3 outburst in the fourth quarter was the difference. Kathryn Westbeld also continued to come up with key contributions despite battling through an injury in the NCAA Tournament. Westbeld hit a key a jumper after the Aggies cut the lead to 85-82 to give the Fighting Irish enough breathing room to seal the game away.
The Ducks executed the role of a heavy favorite very well on Saturday as they beat Central Michigan 83-69. Ruthy Hebard was nearly unstoppable in this game, totaling 23 points and 14 rebounds. Sabrina Ionescu and Lexi Bando added 16 and 14 points, respectively. The first quarter set the tone for Oregon as they sprinted out to a 24-12 lead and shot 55 percent from the floor, while limiting the Chippewas to a 29 percent shooting percentage. Defensively, the Ducks locked down Central Michigan for the rest of the first half and stretched their lead to 40-25 at halftime. After halftime, Central Michigan did make a little bit of a run, cutting the Oregon lead to 55-46, but from that point on the Ducks put the hammer down and put the game away. One area of concern for Oregon coming out of this game is the rebounding battle. The Ducks only outrebounded the Chippewas 46-44. Central Michigan beat Oregon on the offensive glass 22-16 but couldn’t beat the Ducks by converting second chance scoring opportunities.
As they head into this matchup with Oregon on Monday, Notre Dame can ill-afford to fall behind by double-digits against the Ducks. The backcourt of Ogunbowale, Mabrey, and Jackie Young can go to toe to toe with Ionescu and Bando of Oregon. Thus, that matchup should be dead even, so it will come down to who can get in rhythm early for the Fighting Irish. In the frontcourt, there will be a big challenge for Notre Dame in trying to contain Ruthy Hebard. Jessica Shepard and Kathryn Westbeld will have to use their ten fouls wisely against Hebard and at the same time go on the attack offensively and get quality shots. The Ducks need to continue to attack offensively from the opening tip and speed the tempo of the game to wear down Notre Dame in the second half. Three-point shooting and knocking down free throws are additional keys to victory for Oregon as they were a little off on Saturday in both categories. The Fighting Irish are battled tested and aren’t going to panic in front of a pro-Ducks crowd on Monday night. On the other hand, Oregon is going to be confident playing in their second straight Elite Eight and they don’t have to deal with Connecticut this time around. This game is national semifinal worthy and should reflect it with a high quality of play and the first one to get to 85 points should advance on to the Final Four.