The Baylor Bears‘ bid to advance to their third NCAA Women’s Final Four in the past five years ended in the Oklahoma City Region championship game on Sunday night with a 77-68 loss to No. 1 seed Notre Dame.
Baylor had cruised through its first three in this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament, but the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame proved to be a much more formidable opponent.
The Lady Bears led for most of the first half before back-to-back baskets right before the half ended put the Irish up by two at the break, 39-37. The lead changed hand several times in the second half.Mar 29, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA;Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Lindsay Allen (15) attempts a shot against Baylor Bears forward/center Sune Agbuke (22) during the second half the finals of the Oklahoma City regional of the 2015 women
Baylor took a 54-53 lead on a layup by Nina Davis at the 13:15 mark in the second half, but a basket by Jewell Lloyd of Notre Dame 90 seconds later put the Irish up by one at 55-54, and they held off the Lady Bears for the remainder of the game, gradually lengthening their advantage in the closing minutes.
For the second straight game, Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen led the Irish in scoring. After scoring a career-best 28 points in the Fighting Irish’s regional semifinal win over Stanford on Friday, she followed that with a 23-point performance against the Lady Bears. Nineteen of Allen’s points on Sunday came in the second half.
Baylor sophomore Nina Davis had another outstanding game for the Lady Bears. The team’s leading scorer throughout the season contributed 26 points and 13 rebounds against Notre Dame. Sune Agbuke, Baylor’s hero in its semifinal victory over Iowa, added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Bears shot 49 percent in the first half, making 12 of their first 18 shots. They cooled off in the second half, as the Notre Dame defense tightened down some of the screws, ending the game at 42 percent on 29 of 69.
While Baylor failed to move on to its third Final Four since 2010 and fourth since 2005, Notre Dame moves on to the championship round in Tampa, Fla., for the fifth consecutive year.
Notre Dame (35-2) moves on to play another No, 1 seed, South Carolina, in the Women’s Final Four. Baylor’s season ends with a final record of 33-4, the sixth consecutive season the Big 12 champion Lady Bears have won 30 or more games.