Notre Dame 86, Texas 83
AUSTIN (AP) _ Beth Morgan wanted the ball in her hands, and she got it in the second half.
Morgan scored 29 points, including six free throws in the final two minutes, to lift Notre Dame to an 86-83 victory over Texas in the second round of the NCAA East Regional on Monday night.
``That’s the kind of position you want to be in,″ said Morgan, the school’s leading career scorer. ``You’re either going home or going home with a victory.″
Katryna Gaither also scored 29 points as the Irish women’s team reached the Round of 16 for the first time. Notre Dame (29-6) will face Alabama (26-6) Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Texas’ Danielle Viglione hit five 3-pointers and led the Longhorns (22-8) with 19 points.
``That was one of the most exciting games I’ve coached since I’ve been at Notre Dame,″ said Irish coach Muffet McGraw, in her 15th season at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame’s previous best tournament effort was a year ago when the Irish lost to Texas Tech in the second round.
Notre Dame punished the Longhorns inside in the first half behind Gaither and Rosanne Bohmann, who was perfect from the field to score 16.
The Irish extended a 42-40 halftime lead to nine before Texas rallied to lead 79-74 by stacking its defense inside to surround Gaither and Bohmann. But Notre Dame regained the lead with consecutive 3-pointers by Sheila McMillen and Morgan, making it 80-79 with 2:20 left.
Morgan’s free throws the rest of the way held off the Longhorns, who had a chance to take the lead, taking possession with 19.5 seconds left. But Morgan rebounded a missed shot and was fouled with 9.9 seconds remaining.
She made both free throws, and a desperation 3-point attempt by reserve Kim Lummus was partially blocked by Gaither, and time expired as Morgan gained possession.
``We did a good job early on Gaither and then we just didn’t pay enough attention,″ Texas Coach Jody Conradt said. ``You can’t afford not to be attentive all the time to where she and Morgan are.″
Texas used a 15-6 run _ including three straight field goals by freshman center Carla Littleton _ to get back in the game. Viglione hit a 3-pointer with 11:51 left to tie the game 60-60.
Vanessa Williams had 14 points and a career-high 13 assists for Texas. The assist total was a school record in tournament play.
The teams were tied five times before Texas led for 12 of the first half’s last 13 minutes.
Notre Dame took advantage of starting center Angela Jackson’s absence at the end of the first half. Jackson sat down with two fouls and a 31-27 Texas lead with 5:07 left.
Without the junior center, who was held to six points and one rebound in the game, Gaithers and Notre Dame abused the rotation of Littleton and junior Jaime Bailey inside.
The Irish had a 17-7 run to take the two-point lead at halftime, and Gaither had 21 points at halftime.