Early exit

It was the shoes.

That’s what caused No. 7-seed Notre Dame to be upset by No. 10-seed Minnesota 79-71 Sunday at the Joyce Center in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish got new shoes – white and green with stripes on the heel. Don’t change what’s working for you, especially not in the tournament.

On a more tangible note, Natalie Novosel and Melissa Lechlitner slipped on multiple occasions trying to plant and change direction. But I’m more worried about the superstitious change factor.

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Notre Dame-Minnesota notes

Sorry for the delay. Quick recap: Notre Dame lost to Villanova in the second round of the Big East tournament, got the No. 7 seed in the Trenton region of the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 10-seed Minnesota Sunday in the Joyce Center at 2:30 p.m.

Notre Dame’s seed was the second-to-last one announced on Selection Monday, and there was some trepidation from the players, who were gathered in coach Muffet McGraw’s living room. Every time a five or six seed was announced, there were moans and groans.

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A tale of two halves

Terrible cliche. It hurts to write. But unfortunately, in No. 5-seed Notre Dame’s 62-45 win over St. John’s Saturday, that’s the story.

Notre Dame trailed 22-20 at the end of the first half, but outscored St. John’s 42-20 in the second.

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Five for Fighting Irish

No. 20 Notre Dame snagged the No. 5 seed in the Big East tournament in Hartford, Conn., which starts Friday, March 6. They have a first-round bye and face the winner of Friday’s Syracuse — St. John’s game at noon on Saturday in Hartford’s XL Center.

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South Florida-Villanova update

South Florida’s making a game of it againt Villanova: the Bulls are down 46-41 with 4:10 left. Jessica Lawson has 16 points. Check back later for a final score and hopefully a bracket breakdown.

Fried the Friars, Mountaineers next

No. 23 Notre Dame took down Providence 65-56 on the road Saturday, moving them one game behind Villanova at the fifth spot in the Big East. Should Notre Dame win today against West Virginia at home and Villanova lose to South Florida, the Irish, because they have a better overall record, will get the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament this weekend.

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Birthday wishes come true

Happy belated 22nd birthday Lindsay Schrader, who scored 23 points and had eight rebounds during Notre Dame’s 90-79 win over Syracuse at home Monday. Schrader hit mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper and grabbed rebound after rebound to lead the Irish in scoring.

She was having some fun in the post-game press conference as well, talking even though no one had asked her a question and playing princess when reporters asked her teammates about her performance.

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Syracuse pre-game

It takes a ton of moxie to weather all-world UConn’s storm of scorers and only lose by 10 in their house. Sunday’s game was impressive for the Irish.

They better not let up. They can take Syracuse, who visits the JACC tonight at 7, but they can’t affort to know that.

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Second-half swagger

Inexcusable, is the word Muffet McGraw used to describe her team’s perimeter offense in the first half of Tuesday’s game at South Florida. Seven 3-pointers, down 14 at one point, Notre Dame played poorly.

So she gave the team a talking-to. Said they needed to have pride in their defense. Said they needed to get out and guard the 3-point line. The players responded – she said she heard Lindsay Schrader and Melissa Lechlitner getting the team going. Whatever happened, it worked.

Notre Dame outscored South Florida 42-27 in the second half and won 86-79.

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Bull rush: ND at USF Tuesday

No. 24 Notre Dame is already in Florida, ready to face South Florida Tuesday night in its quest to remain in the top eight in the Big East and snag a first-round bye in the conference tourney in Hartford.

Muffet McGraw couldn’t seem to care less about the bye; she said today she wants her team to play Tuesday’s game with a sense of urgency and that she doesn’t talk about standings or rankings with the team. Probably the smart way to go.

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