Women’s NCAA Tournament Norfolk Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

Notre Dame Women's College Basketball

Women’s NCAA Tournament Norfolk Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown


#1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Duke (Norfolk, Virginia)

The seedings have held true in Norfolk as #1 Notre Dame and #2 Duke will face off on Tuesday with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Fighting Irish had another easy win in the Sweet Sixteen, beating Kansas easily 93-63. This time it was Skylar Diggins leading the potent Notre Dame offense with 27 points. She also dished out nine assists and committed just one turnover. Duke was involved in a tighter game in Norfolk against Nebraska. The Blue Devils got off to an extremely slow start, but held on to win 53-45. Tricia Liston led the way with 17 points and sparked the occasionally stagnant Duke offense, but a strong defensive effort advanced the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight.

The Duke defense will have to be extremely tough to send Notre Dame back to South Bend instead of to New Orleans. In the Irish’s NCAA Tournament opener, it was Jewell Loyd who led the team in scoring with 27 points. In the second round against Iowa, it was Kayla McBride and her 28 points that paced the team. And last game it was Diggins and her 27 points. Just when the opposition thinks they can stop somebody in the Notre Dame backcourt, somebody else steps up and has a huge game. Defending everybody is nearly impossible. The consistent play of forward Natalie Achonwa, who has reached double digits in the scoring department in every tournament game thus far, has really opened up space for Diggins and company in the backcourt. The Blue Devils do have the advantage in the frontcourt with Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters, but they will need to stay close enough to Notre Dame to keep working the ball through the frontcourt on offense. That is easier said than done against the Irish. This is when the Blue Devils are really, really going to start seeing the effects of not having Chelsea Gray. The experienced point guard has missed the entire tournament, but this is the type of game where dictating tempo and keep control of the ball is going to be absolutely huge. Diggins will likely win that little battle. She may not get her team up to 90 or more points for the third time in four games, but the Irish will want to be closer to the 80s, while Duke will want to keep the point total closer to the 60s. It will take a very, very good outing from the Blue Devils and a cold shooting night from the Irish to stop Notre Dame from heading to the Final Four.


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