Notre Dame dancing into the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament

NOW: Notre Dame dancing into the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament

SOUTH BEND, Ind -- The Irish survive Mississippi State 53-48 to advance to the sweet 16.

It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Irish.

Notre Dame came into the matchup against the Bulldogs, averaging 74 points per game and Mississippi State held them to just 53 points.

The big difference was rebounds in this game.

Lauren Ebo led the way with 18, setting a Notre Dame program record in the NCAA tournament.

Ebo was off to a hot start with 6 rebounds in the first quarter and right behind her was Maddy Westbeld with 5.

“Ebo had an NCAA tournament record in rebounds with 18. Both of them (Maddy Westbeld and Lauren Ebo) had ten rebounds at the half,” said Head Coach Niele Ivey.

“I think keeping them off the board was important for us and rebounding, somewhere we struggled in the past month, so I just wanted to go out there and help us get to the sweet 16, which thankfully we did,” Ebo added.

Notre Dame not able to pull away until the third quarter, going into the fourth, leading 41-33 after a buzzer beater from Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs came out swinging in the fourth, capping off 10-0 run and tying the game at 41.

“I had to call a time-out and i told them to breathe and relax,” Ivey said in regards to Mississippi State’s run.

Coming out of the timeout, the Irish running out of time on the shot clock, Westbeld jacked up a three, but it was Ebo’s record breaking 17th rebound and basket, giving the Irish a 43-41 lead.

“Ebo got that one offensive rebound and put that basket back in, and that crowd erupted so we really needed a basket to settle us in,” Ivey mentioned.

“I'm very repetitive. I just try to do whatever I can to help us win,” Ebo added.

Although the graduate senior didn’t have much to say, her teammates did it for her.

“I have a lot to say about eb. I think just being on the court with her, I know exactly what I’m going to get from her every time. She has her toughness for 40 minutes,” Westbeld said.

“Followed by Sonia Citron’s kiss off the glass and finishing the job at the charity stripe, Notre Dame earned a hard win in order to keep dancing in March, landing them in the sweet 16.

“This group, the resilience of this team, the toughness of this team is unbelievable. Not a lot of people thought we would be up here headed to the sweet 16 and we have a belief, lot of love, lot of trust in our locker room. We know that anything is possible and i'm just so grateful to be able to say that I can lead this group and to be back dancing in the sweet 16 is a dream come true, especially with everything that we're going through,” Ivey said.

The Irish are headed to the sweet 16 in Greenville, South Carolina to face Maryland in a rematch.

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