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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Lindsay Allen powers Notre Dame offense to victory

For a while Monday night, top-seeded Notre Dame found itself in a heavyweight fight with ninth-seeded Indiana.

For roughly three quarters, the two teams traded scoring runs. Each time the Irish (33-1, 16-0 ACC) attempted to pull away from the Hoosiers (21-12, 12-6 Big Ten) for good, Indiana fought its way back into the game.

With 2:10 left in the third quarter and the Irish maintaining a narrow 56-54 lead after a 12-1 scoring run by the Hoosiers, Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen came up with a steal and found freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale for an easy layup. Then, on the proceeding inbounds pass, Allen came away with another steal and scored a layup of her own, beginning a 15-2 run that would finally put the Irish well ahead for good.

“I think we really locked in on defense,” Allen said of the stretch she helped spark. “We weren’t really getting layups or boxing out on the defensive end, but we really locked in and got some stops and got some steals. Then we got going into transition, which is the best part of our team.”

While it was her defense that sparked the 15-2 second-half run to help seal the game for the Irish, Allen was locked in from the beginning. Although the Irish struggled to put away the Hoosiers in the first half, Allen scored 18 points in the period, including a stretch of 10 straight points capped off by a buzzer-beating jumper to end the half.

After a one-point, 10-assist game Saturday in Notre Dame’s win over North Carolina A&T, Allen was not expected to carry the scoring load for the Irish coming into this game. But when her team needed her most, she delivered with a season-high 22 in addition to seven assists and five steals. Despite her best efforts to help her team adjust to a more aggressive Allen, Hoosier head coach Teri Moren said Allen made several great plays that made her difficult for the Hoosier defense to handle.

“Anything inside [the 3-point line] she’s pretty comfortable and able to knock them down, even though she didn’t score the other night,” Moren said. “We knew that she had a short mid-range game, and then she just got hot. She was feeling confident. … Again, it’s a great player making great plays. She caught fire there and really burned us on a couple occasions. I thought she played a great first half.”

Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said she was pleased with Allen’s performance in the first half because it carried the Irish until the team’s other players were able to close things out in the second half.

“Lindsay Allen took over the offense in the first half, and then [sophomore forward Brianna Turner] and [graduate student guard Madison Cable] finished it up in the second half,” McGraw said. “Just great teamwork.”

While Allen was on the attack offensively in the first half, she only scored four points in the second half. However, that was largely because she only attempted three shots after the break as she deferred to Cable and Turner, who scored 14 each in the second half. Allen said her performance in both halves was simply a product of taking what the Hoosier defense gave her.

“I think it was just the way defense was playing us today,” Allen said. “We really worked on getting that free-throw line jumper and attacking the basket and making sure we’re attacking that transition. So it was just taking over what the defense gave us and just reading them.”

And in the first half, that meant attacking them with the same sets of plays until they made the adjustments to stop it, which allowed her to take over during her scoring stretch right before the half.

“We just noticed that we were getting the same shots, and we were pretty successful at it,” Allen said. “So, we were doing the same plays until they stopped it, and that’s what happened. We kept getting the same shots — either the free-throw line jumper, a layup for me and a layup for [Brianna Turner]. It was just reading the defense and taking what they gave us.”

With the win, the Irish punched their ticket to the program’s seventh-straight Sweet 16 appearance. Notre Dame will next take the court Friday when it travels to Lexington, Kentucky, to battle fourth-seeded Stanford at Rupp Arena.