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Notre Dame survives Mississippi State as Virginia Tech makes history

Second round action in the NCAA Women’s March Madness tournament continued on Sunday as Notre Dame played Mississippi State and Virginia Tech played South Dakota State.

Mississippi State pulled off an upset when they defeated six-seed Creighton 81–66 in the first round as an 11-seed. Creighton may be best remembered for a Cinderella-story run last season, which included defeating Kaitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Notre Dame on the other hand came into the tournament with a lot of question marks. They had lost Dara Mabray to an ACL injury earlier in the season, and then it was announced earlier this week that Olivia Miles would not play in the tournament as well. They still came into the Greenville 1 Region as the No. 3 seed, and defeated No. 14 seed Southern Utah 82–56.

With those wins, a second round matchup of Notre Dame and Mississippi State was set up. With those injuries to Miles and Mabrey, don’t let the seeds fool you into thinking it’s a walk-off for Notre Dame. They have had to adjust quickly without their offensive leader in Miles, and learn to share and handle the basketball as a team.

The first quarter was tight and neither team was able to take a big lead. It ended with Notre Dame up by only one point, 13–12. Canadian freshman Cassandre Prosper checked in for Notre Dame, playing with a lot more poise than an average freshman.

In the second quarter, Notre Dame began to pull away slightly, but Mississippi State was not going away. Ibo led all scorers with seven points, followed by Prosper with six. From Mississippi State, Jessica Carter led all scorers with six points.

Notre Dame led 26–23 at halftime.

It was in the third quarter that Notre Dame went on a run to overtake Mississippi State. They managed to go ahead by 10 points thanks to Maddie Westbeld and Sonia Citron.

The Bulldogs would not go down without a fight, getting a buzzer-beating shot to put them on top 41–33 in the final quarter. The Bulldogs took it back one possession with less than eight minutes to go in the game and then Courtney Weber hit a triple to tie it up – and we had a game!

The Fighting Irish extended their lead to four with three minutes to go in the game, and were able to win and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

After the Terrapins beat Arizona on Sunday, they will travel to Greenville to play No. 2 seed Maryland.

Lauren Abo had 17 rebounds for Notre Dame, making a huge impact on the Irish’s ability to get second chance opportunities.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech had an easier time in their second round matchup. They came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Seattle Region 3 and easily defeated Chattanooga 58–33 in their opening game.

It was another first-round upset for South Dakota State, which defeated USC 62–57 to advance to the Round of 32.

Virginia Tech outscored the Jackrabbits 19–7 in the first quarter of their game, holding South Dakota scoreless for the first seven minutes. It was all Elizabeth Kitley, Kayanna Traylor and Georgia Amur for the Hokies, and the team’s 3-point shooting made it difficult for South Dakota State to catch up.

Despite the Jackrabbits closing it out a bit more as the first half wound down, Virginia Tech was up 46–23 at halftime.

Those 46 points marked a season high for a first half for Virginia Tech. Kitley led all scorers at halftime with 12, helping her prospects as she prepares to enter the 2023 WNBA Draft in just a few weeks. Traylor was right behind with 11 points, and Amur and Banana King both had nine.

Kitley booked his double-double for the game in the third quarter. Still, the jackrabbits didn’t go away; He got two more fouls, as well as was able to block Kitley’s shot at one point midway through the third – fueling his energy.

This sent them on a run that would make the fourth quarter more intense for both sides. At one point, South Dakota State came within ten points of VA Tech. Nevertheless, the Hokies prevailed, winning the game 72–60 and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for only the second time in program history.

Amur was leading the way with 21 points. Kitley booked 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Hokies now head to Seattle to face the winner of Monday’s Tennessee (4) vs. Toledo (12) matchup.

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