Mabrey’s 29 points help Notre Dame roll past Oklahoma 108-64

SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN/USA TODAY NETWORK
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NORMAN, Okla. — Notre Dame stormed into Oklahoma’s building, played the Sooners’ up-tempo style and dominated.

Dara Mabrey scored a season-high 29 points, and the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish rolled past fourth-seeded Oklahoma 108-64 on Monday night to earn a spot in the women’s Sweet 16.

Mabrey made 11 of 19 field goals, including seven 3-pointers. She set the tone early, scoring 17 points in the first quarter against an Oklahoma team that was third nationally in scoring and had built its reputation on forcing a fast tempo.

“That was another main focal point – just pushing, pushing, pushing the ball because we know that no one in the country can run with us, and once we do that, we’re unstoppable,” Notre Dame guard Olivia Miles said.

Sonia Citron scored 25 points and Maya Dodson added 20 for Notre Dame (24-8). According to Stats by STATS, Notre Dame became the first team, men’s or women’s, to beat a higher-seeded team by at least 40 points.

It was Notre Dame’s most complete game of the season.

“The entire game, as far as running and our offense, was exactly how I envisioned it as far as our pace, and we shot the ball well,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “We did a great job of shot selection, going inside out. We established inside game, we ran. And then defensively, our level raised. We raised our level against a really great offensive team.”

It’s the first Sweet 16 berth for Ivey, a second-year coach. The Fighting Irish went 10-10 and missed the tournament last season, making this season’s run sweeter.

“This is something I prayed about, something I knew could come to life, and I’m so over the moon,” Ivey said. “I mean, I’m so proud of this team. I’m so proud of our journey. I’m so proud to see where we’ve come since last season.”

The Fighting Irish will play No. 1 seed North Carolina State on Saturday in a Bridgeport Regional semifinal. The Wolfpack beat Kansas State 89-57 on Monday.

Taylor Robertson scored 19 points for Oklahoma (25-9). Skylar Vann had 11 points and nine rebounds and Liz Scott had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners. Oklahoma committed 28 turnovers and shot just 32.3% from the floor.

Notre Dame led 13-7 before Mabrey scored 12 straight to push the Fighting Irish lead to 18. She banked in her last three points during the run to put Notre Dame ahead 25-7.

Mabrey made 5 of 6 3-pointers in the first quarter. The Fighting Irish shot 56.5% in the opening period to lead 35-12 heading into the second.

Oklahoma didn’t handle Notre Dame’s early surge well.

“I think sometimes when we get down by that much, we do try to get it all back at once, and then that kind of causes bad things for us to happen,” Robertson said. “And then we might dwell on that, and then another bad thing happens, and it kind of snowballed for us a little bit, and we could have done a better job in response to that.”

Notre Dame led 60-25 at halftime. It was the most points the Fighting Irish have ever scored in a half in a tournament game. Mabrey scored 19 points and Citron had 17 before the break. Robertson scored 15 in the first half for Oklahoma, but the rest of the Sooners scored 10 points on 4-for-27 shooting. The Sooners shot 24.2% before the break.

Notre Dame led 85-47 heading into the fourth quarter. The Fighting Irish hit the 100-point mark on a fast break layup by Dodson with just over four minutes remaining.

“I thought Notre Dame was phenomenal, and if they can continue to do that, watch out, everybody,” Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “We needed to be better, and we weren’t. That’s on us as a coaching staff for not having us ready.”

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish used superior athletic ability to outscore the Sooners 34-8 in fast break points and used its size advantage and Miles’ court vision to use the post game and set up outside shooters.

Oklahoma: It was a successful season for Baranczyk, but it was a disappointing finish for a Sooners team that had four Top 25 wins and swept Baylor in the regular season. The future looks bright. Robertson, a senior, said after the game that she will come back next season for a fifth year.

DOING IT ALL

One game after notching a triple-double, Miles nearly got another one.

The freshman guard had nine points, seven rebounds and 12 assists against Oklahoma. In the two games in Norman, she averaged 10.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 11.5 assists.

SISTERLY LOVE

Dara Mabrey tied Marina Mabrey’s school record for 3-pointers in a tournament game. Marina had seven in a Sweet 16 win over Texas A&M in 2018.

Dara expects to hear about it from her sister, who is playing professionally in Australia and also plays for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.

“Marina, if you hear this, I’m going to break your record at some point,” Dara said.

STAT LINES

Notre Dame’s Maddy Westbeld averaged 16 points on 56% shooting in the two games in Norman. She also averaged seven rebounds and two steals.

Sooners take down No. 3 Baylor 72-67 in Big 12 quarterfinals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma coach Porter Moser remembers the feeling a couple weeks ago when the Sooners learned that Elijah Harkless, their heartbeat on the floor and one of their best all-around players, was done for the season with an injury.

They were stunned, Moser said, and it took a couple games to get back on track.

The Sooners are certainly rolling now.

Umoja Gibson scored 14 points, including a crucial three-point play with less than a minute to go, and Oklahoma rallied in the second half for a 72-67 victory over third-ranked Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals Thursday night to undoubtedly earn some major points with the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

“Really happy for the guys to stick with us and be resilient,” Moser said. “We regrouped. We’ve won four in a row, and that was a huge win for us. It’s a testament to this group and how close they’re becoming, and how resilient they’re becoming, blocking out all the outside noise and just focusing on what we need to do to win games.”

It helps that Jacob Groves, who took Harkless’ spot in the starting lineup, came through with 15 points. Marvin Johnson added 12, including two foul shots with five seconds left, and Jalen Hill and Jordan Goldwire finished with 10 apiece.

Now, the Sooners (18-14) have a date with No. 14 Texas Tech or Iowa State in the Big 12 semifinals Friday night.

The Sooners were clinging to a 61-60 lead with just under 3 minutes left when Gibson broke a full-court press for a layup. The 6-foot-1 guard added a three-point play to make it 68-62 with 49 seconds left, then grabbed the rebound off James Akinjo’s missed 3-pointer to give Oklahoma the ball with just over 30 seconds remaining.

The Sooners did enough at the foul line to hold on from there.

“I think it’s just kind of an accumulation of a lot of things, building up to the end of the season,” Groves said. “We’re playing great basketball at the right time of the year, and that’s exciting. Got two more to win.”

Akinjo finished with 16 points but was just 6 of 16 from the field for Baylor (26-6), the co-champions with Kansas during the regular season. Jeremy Sochan added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

“I was proud of the way our guys competed at the end, where we pressed and cut it to a one-possession game, but how we started both halves was probably a key to the game,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team beat the Sooners twice in the regular season. “I probably did a bad job of preparing our guys.”

The Sooners, who had won three straight coming into the tournament, kept their momentum going throughout most of the first half. They scored the first seven points, at one point led 17-10 and never trailed for the first 18-plus minutes.

All that work went to waste in the final couple minutes of the first half.

They were still leading 25-21 when Johnson and Groves combined for three turnovers in four trips down the floor. The last of them ended up in a run-out for the Bears, and Dale Bonner drilled a 3 from right in front of the Oklahoma bench, giving the reigning national champions their first lead of the game.

Sochan’s three-point play with 2.6 seconds left capped a 12-2 run and gave Baylor a 33-27 advantage at the break.

The Sooners slowly crept even in the second half, and Hill’s go-ahead bucket with 11 1/2 minutes to go started a 9-0 run.

Groves did most of the work, turning over Flagler and throwing down a dunk in transition, then taking a charging foul. That was before back-to-back baskets by Johnson – including a 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock.

With just two fouls down the stretch, Baylor began to aggressively use a full-court press, willing to give up a couple whistles for a couple turnovers. The strategy worked as Oklahoma twice coughed up the ball on inbounds plays and the Bears were able to get easy baskets to draw within 63-62 with 2 1/2 minutes to go.

That’s when Gibson, the shortest guy on the court, came through with the biggest plays of the game.

SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

Sochan colored his hair blue, one of the two colors of the Ukrainian flag, and wore messages of support on his warmup shirt and shoes for the nation currently at war with invading Russia.

“I think no matter what outcome we had, it was obvious there’s something going on in this world that’s not the best thing,” said Sochan, who was raised in England by a Polish mother and American father. “I think we’re all connected in some way. What’s happening isn’t right. Just showing some awareness with whatever I can do.”

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma, which had lost four of its past five Big 12 Tournament games, used balanced scoring (five players in double figures) to put away the banged-up Bears. Seven players played at least 15 minutes, including Tanner Groves, who had five points and six boards while dealing with foul trouble.

Baylor still has never won a Big 12 Tournament title. It didn’t help the Bears’ cause that Kendall Brown, one of their best players, had to leave briefly early in the second half with an ankle injury. The loss should put into question their chances of earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT

The Sooners play No. 3 seed Texas Tech or sixth-seeded Iowa State for a spot in the title game.

No. 9 Texas Tech wins 20th home game in a row, 66-42 over OU

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Ninth-ranked Texas Tech is already tough enough to beat on its home court. Things really got out of hand when Oklahoma kept turning over the ball.

“When you get easy baskets, you know, you’re probably going to win a lot of games,” first-year Tech head coach Mark Adams said.

Davion Warren scored 16 points, Bryson Williams had 13 and the Red Raiders won their 20th consecutive home game, avenging their only loss this month with a 66-42 victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday night. Texas Tech had eight consecutive baskets in the second half off turnovers by the slumping Sooners.

Williams had the first two baskets of the second half when the Red Raiders (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) scored the first 10 points. That included converting an OU turnover into a back-door layup by Adonis Arms, who brought the ball up the court before making the first of five passes between four players – the last a bounce pass from Clarence Nadolny to Arms along the baseline.

“I’m disappointed the way that we came out in the second half. I thought in the first half … we got some shots, some didn’t fall,” first-year Sooners coach Porter Moser said. “But the bottom line is, we had to play really well to beat Texas Tech tonight. We needed a lot of really good performances to beat Texas Tech tonight, and we didn’t have them.”

Jalen Hill had a team-high eight points for the Sooners (14-14, 4-11), who have lost four straight since their 70-55 home win over Texas Tech two weeks ago. Oklahoma had 21 turnovers that led to 26 Tech points, including 13 turnovers in the second half that the Red Raiders converted into 23 points.

Marcus Santos-Silva and Arms both finished with nine points for the Red Raiders, who are 17-0 at home this season. Tech has won its last four games and seven of eight, with the lone loss in Norman.

Warren’s 16 points were the most for the senior transfer since 19 in the second game of the season. He had a combined five points on 1-of-12 shooting the previous two games, but made 7 of 9 shots against Oklahoma.

“Just staying the course. The past couple of games I’ve been getting myself in trouble with foul trouble, so I kind of didn’t get in the rhythm of those games,” Warren said. “It’s really not about scoring, because I didn’t really come here to be the scorer. I did that in my previous years.”

The Red Raiders never trailed, going ahead to stay on a layup by Williams that broke a 7-7 tie only 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

Tech had a 19-0 run over nearly seven minutes midway through the second half that included three consecutive baskets by Santos-Silva. Nadolny had a pass to Santos-Silva streaking into the lane and without a dribble had an impressive slam with his left hand to make it 58-29.

“Whether you lose by that much, or this much, it’s a loss you got to put in the bank,” Moser said. “I’m upset at a lot of things, but on the other hand, we’ve got to move past this.”

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma: The Sooners, who opened the season 4-0, had their lowest-scoring game of the season and slipped to a .500 record for the first time. They have lost seven of eight. Their win over Texas Tech was their fourth over a top-15 team. … Oklahoma had two-point losses to Kansas and Texas before a 75-54 loss at Iowa State and the setback against Tech. Both lopsided losses have come since a season-ending injury to senior guard Elijah Harkless.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ 17-0 record at home this season is now better than No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 4 Kentucky, both at 16-0. The Red Raiders won their final three home games last season. … Texas Tech shot 57% overall (28 of 49) from the field, including a 16-of-23 clip (70%) after halftime.

TOPPING 2K

Williams began his college career with two seasons at Fresno State and two at UTEP before transferring to Tech this season. He surpassed 2,000 career points, and now has 382 of his 2,009 career points for Tech.

“He’s one of the most dedicated guys that I’ve ever been around,” Adams said.

TOURNAMENT TALK

Going into the game, some projections had Oklahoma listed in the first four out of the NCAA Tournament field.

“Got a lot of ball left, don’t count us out,” Moser said. “We’ve got opportunities. We’ve got great opponents.”

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: Home against in-state Big 12 rival Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Sooners lost the first matchup, 64-55, in Stillwater on Feb. 5.

Texas Tech: At TCU on Saturday, two weeks after beating the Horned Frogs 82-49 in Lubbock.

No. 6 Iowa State rolls past No. 15 Oklahoma, 89-67

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AMES, Iowa — Ashley Joens scored 28 points to help No. 6 Iowa State cruise to an 89-67 win over No. 15 Oklahoma on Saturday night.

With the win, the Cyclones (22-4, 11-3 Big 12) remained tied atop the conference standings.

Joens hit 10 of 20 shots and also grabbed nine rebounds. Emily Ryan added 15 points for Iowa State and Lexi Donarski added 14.

Iowa State hit six 3-pointers in the first quarter and built a 28-16 lead when Ashley Joens hit a jumper with 2 seconds remaining.

A 3-pointer from Aubrey Joens extended the margin to 31-16 early in the second period. Skylar Vann and Madi Williams each had 10 points in the first half, helping the Sooners pull within 43-33 at the break.

The Cyclone lead eventually grew to 62-41 as Oklahoma continued to struggle offensively. The Sooners committed 18 turnovers and made just four of their first 21 shots from behind the 3-point arc.

Oklahoma (20-6, 9-5) entered Saturday averaging 85.3 points per game, which ranked second nationally.

A layup from Nyamer Diew gave Iowa State a 71-45 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State and Baylor continue to be co-leaders in the Big 12. The No. 7 Bears (21-5, 11-3) assured themselves of at least a share of first place in the conference by beating TCU 78-59 earlier Saturday.

UP NEXT

Iowa State faces another Big 12 challenger when it travels to Kansas for a Wednesday matchup.

Oklahoma visits last place Texas Christian on Wednesday.

Gray scores 35, Texas Tech women top No. 15 Oklahoma 97-87

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NORMAN, Okla. – Vivian Gray scored 35 points to reach 2,000 in her career, Taylah Thomas had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Texas Tech beat No. 15 Oklahoma 97-87 on Wednesday night to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Gray, who was 12 of 24 from the field, entered needing 28 points to reach the milestone. She reached the mark on a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, the first of her 10 points in the frame.

Texas Tech attempted 22 free throws in the fourth quarter, making 13 in the final minute. Gray and Tatum Veitenheimer each made 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth, and Lexy Hightower went 6 for 6. The Lady Raiders finished 31 of 36 at the stripe.

Hightower added 20 points for Texas Tech (10-14, 3-10 Big 12). The Lady Raiders hadn’t won since Jan. 15 against then-No. 25 Kansas State in the second of three top-25 victories this season.

Skylar Vann had 17 points for Oklahoma (20-5, 9-4). Nevaeh Tot and Madi Williams each added 16 points and Taylor Robertson had 14. The Sooners turned it over 14 times, leading to 19 Texas Tech points.

Iowa State hits women’s AP Top 25 milestone; Gamecocks No. 1

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Iowa State has reached its best ranking in 20 years in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll while South Carolina remained the unanimous choice at No. 1.

Iowa State (21-3) moved up three spots to sixth on Monday – it’s highest mark since the 2002 season – and has a huge week ahead with games against No. 14 Texas and No. 15 Oklahoma. The Cyclones, who were sixth on Jan. 7, 2002, hold a one-game lead over Oklahoma and Baylor in the Big 12 standings. Iowa State has only won the conference’s regular season crown once, in 2000.

The Gamecocks received all 30 votes from a national media panel after beating Kentucky and Georgia on the road last week. Stanford, Louisville, N.C. State and Indiana round out the top five.

No. 7 Baylor and No. 8 Arizona follow Iowa State while Michigan fell from fourth to ninth after losing at Michigan State and Northwestern. UConn dropped two spots to No. 10.

Virginia Tech is back in the Top 25 at No. 23 after beating then-No. 11 Georgia Tech and former No. 23 North Carolina last week.

CONFERENCE RANKINGS

Louisville and N.C. State are two of six Atlantic Coast Conference teams ranked this week. The SEC and Big Ten each have five teams in the poll. The Big 12 has four and the Pac-12 two among Power Five conferences.

SNAPPED

UConn’s nine-year undefeated run of conference wins ended against Villanova last week; the Huskies hadn’t lost a regular season or postseason conference game in either the Big East or American Athletic Conference since 2013, when they fell to Notre Dame. UConn rebounded with wins over DePaul and Marquette and still has not had back-to-back losses since 1993.

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 12 Tennessee at No. 1 South Carolina, Sunday. The top two teams in the SEC will square off with the Gamecocks hoping to put some space between themselves and the rest of the conference. ESPN will be on hand for the third-ever “College GameDay” at a women’s basketball game.