When Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team opened the season ranked No. 1 in the nation — ahead of even mighty UConn — an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 seemed a certainty.
After what the Fighting Irish went through to get to Rupp Arena, taking the next step might be significantly more difficult.
Notre Dame needed overtime to dispatch Purdue late Sunday night, doing so without star forward Brianna Turner. She went down with a left knee injury late in the first half. She walked off the court to the locker room, but didn’t play in the second half as Lexington Regional top seed Notre Dame won 88-82. Coach Muffet McGraw said postgame that Turner would have an MRI on her knee.
Turner, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, leads Notre Dame (32-3) in scoring (15.3 points per game), rebounding (7.1) and blocked shots (2.5). If Turner is unable to play, some of the slack is likely to be picked up by Erin Boley, Kentucky’s 2016 Miss Basketball from Elizabethtown. Boley has started eight games this season and averages 6.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Notre Dame will take on Lexington Regional No. 5 seed Ohio State in one of Friday night’s two semifinal games in Rupp Arena. Ohio State (28-6) eliminated Kentucky from the NCAA Tournament with an 82-68 victory in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday in which former UK player Linnae Harper posted a near triple-double of 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Friday’s other semifinal will pit No. 3 seed Texas (25-8) against either No. 2 seed Stanford or No. 7 Kansas State, who played last night to determine the fourth team bound for Lexington.
What: NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional semifinals and finals
When: Friday (7 and 9:30 p.m.) and Sunday (Noon)
Where: Rupp Arena
Friday’s matchups: No. 1 seed Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Ohio State; No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Stanford (Game times still to be assigned)
At stake: Sunday’s winner advances to NCAA Final Four in Dallas