Injury sidelines Achonwa for the rest of the season
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame women's basketball player Natalie Achonwa injured her knee in Monday night's NCAA tournament game against Baylor. She will miss the rest of the tournament because of the injury.
This is Achonwa's senior year.
Achonwa injured her knee in the second half of the game against Baylor Monday night.
She said she went up for a layup and as she landed, heard a pop.
Monday night, players tried to remain positive.
"It's tough. She's like my big sister. She's my big sister so it's tough but she's a fighter and she'll be fine," said Irish guard Jewell Loyd.
An MRI Tuesday morning confirmed Achonwa had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee after an MRI Tuesday morning. She will have surgery at a later date.
Although she won't be on the court for the Final Four game, Coach Muffet McGraw says Achonwa will still contribute from the sidelines.
“Natalie has been an extremely valuable contributor to our success, not only this season but throughout her career, and that won’t change,” Head Coach Muffet McGraw said. “While she may not be in uniform, her voice will be heard loud and clear in the locker room, on the bench and in the huddle. I know that our team is going to continue to feed off her energy, passion and leadership as we head into the Final Four.”
The Irish said thanks to their team's depth, there are plenty of players who can step in Achonwa's place.
"You know I think we have other people to step up, but at this point we're still hoping that we have Ace back, but we have Taya, Keish, people that are ready to step up and we know that our coaches will have us ready regardless," said Kayla McBride.
"We need everyone and now is the time we need people to step up," said Loyd.
Achonwa started 33 games for the Irish this season. She averaged 14.9 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game.