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    Irish On Their Way to Raleigh

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    Notre Dame did exactly what it needed to do in the second half. The Fighting Irish jumped out to a quick six-point lead to force a Cal timeout, outscored the Golden Bears 23-6 over the first eight minutes of the half, and never looked back on the way to a 73-62 victory in an NCAA tournament second round matchup at Purcell Pavilion.

    The Irish's ability to get to the free throw line was key, especially in a first half where they did not shoot the ball particularly well. They finished the game 26-for-33 from the charity stripe, while Cal managed just 7-for-14.

    Seniors Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters came through with huge games for the Irish in their final appearance on the home court. Novosel had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals, while Peters added 11 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocks. Skylar Diggins had a big game as well, contributing 21 on 9-for-15 shooting.

    The crowd was electric all evening and the close first half only made things louder, as Cal gave the Irish all they could handle before the break.

    Measured on an iPhone app, the Purcell Pavilion volume reached 99 decibels late in the second half - above the "Level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss," according to Galen Carol Audio.

    With the win, Notre Dame will head to Raleigh where it will meet #5 seed St. Bonaventure in a Sweet Sixteen matchup on Sunday.

    (Raleigh always makes me think of "Wagon Wheel," so if you so choose, cue up the Old Crow Medicine Show hit on YouTube.)

    It was win #32 on the season, and a great finale on the home floor. Hopefully the next time we see the Fighting Irish in this venue, they will be celebrating a national championship.

    There's still quite a bit of work to be done, but Notre Dame moved one step closer with its hard-fought win tonight. Two down, four to go...

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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