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    Fighting Irish

    Mar. 22, 1997

    Sixth-seed Irish Advance to Elite Eight

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senior Beth Morgan poured in a career-high 36 points as sixth seed Notre Dame upset second-seeded Alabama, 87-71, in the East Region semifinal in the NCAA Women's Tournament at Columbia, South Carolina.

    The Fighting Irish (30-6) held Alabama scoreless for nearly six minutes of the second half and advanced to the regional final for the first time school history. They will meet another newcomer -- George Washington -- on Monday for the right to go to the Final Four in Cincinnati.

    Morgan scored 22 points in the second half to rally Notre Dame from a 41-32 deficit. She shot 13-of-22 from the floor -- including -- 6-of-10 from three-point range, en route to a tournament high for points.

    "It's an unbelievable feeling right now," said Morgan. "Our team stayed strong for 40 minutes. This is definitely the highlight of my career."

    Alabama broke a 22-22 tie with 6:35 left in the first half on a three-pointer from Shalonda Enis that triggered a 19-10 run to close the half. Enis had eight points during the charge, while Dominique Canty added four.

    Morgan hit three straight shots from beyond the arc to pull the Irish into a 51-51 tie with 12:09 left. Three points from Tausha Mills restored a 54-51 lead for the Crimson Tide with 11:17 left.

    Sheila McMillen's three-pointer gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game at 58-56 with 9:27 left. They proceeded to put away the game, ripping off 17 consecutive points and holding Alabama scoreless for six minutes. Enis finally broke the drought with two free throws with four minutes to play. Notre Dame held the Tide to 25 percent (9-of-35) shooting in the second half.

    "We played well, I thought the key was our defense," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. "That was the best 15 minutes we have played all year. I think once we got into the flow we knew what we were going to do."

    Katryna Gaither was the only other Notre Dame player in double figures with 26 points. Morgan also pulled down 13 rebounds.

    Notre Dame, which finished second to top-ranked Connecticut in the Big East Conference, won for the first time in four meetings against Alabama.

    Enis led the Tide with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Canty added 19 points. Alabama (25-7) has been knocked out in the regional semifinals three straight years.

    "I'm real disappointed for basketball team," Tide coach Rick Moody said. "I'm proud of our season and I want to congratulate Notre Dame. They took the game away from us. They shot the ball very well and played an unbelievable second half."

    NOTRE DAME (87)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Bohman          33   3-5   0-2   1-5  2  3    6
    Morgan          36 13-22   4-4  0-13  2  1   36
    Gaither         39 10-15   6-9   4-9  0  3   26
    Peirick         28   0-2   5-6   1-4 11  3    5
    Augustin        27   3-6   0-2   0-3  1  4    6
    Mcmillen        21   2-2   0-0   0-6  1  3    6
    Grady            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    Henderson        7   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
    Hutchinson       8   1-2   0-0   0-1  1  1    2
    _______________________________________________
    TOTALS         200 32-54 15-23  6-42 18 19   87
    _______________________________________________
    Percentages: FG-.593, FT-.652. 3-Point Goals:
    8-12, .667 (Morgan 6-10, Mcmillen 2-2). Team
    rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1 (Bohman).
    Turnovers: 23 (Augustin 6, Bohman 5, Morgan 5,
    Mcmillen 3, Peirick 2, Gaither). Steals: 4
    (Augustin, Bohman, Henderson, Peirick).
    ALABAMA (71)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Enis            33  9-18   3-3  1-10  2  3   26
    Canty           35  7-16   5-8   5-7  3  4   19
    Watkins         24   1-8   3-4   2-7  0  4    5
    Monteith        22   1-6   0-0   1-2  2  2    2
    Ezell           25   1-7   1-2   0-0  6  0    4
    L Jones          9   1-1   4-4   2-2  0  1    6
    Mills           16   1-4   1-2   1-3  0  4    3
    Duncan          12   1-7   1-2   1-3  0  4    3
    Teeple           1   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
    Baragry         21   1-7   0-0   0-1  3  4    3
    Crosslin         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    Holtzclaw        1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    _______________________________________________
    TOTALS         200 23-75 18-25 13-35 16 27   71
    _______________________________________________
    Percentages: FG-.307, FT-.720. 3-Point Goals:
    7-27, .259 (Enis 5-8, Canty 0-1, Monteith 0-4,
    Ezell 1-7, Duncan 0-3, Baragry 1-4). Team
    rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 1 (Monteith).
    Turnovers: 12 (Canty 4, Ezell 2, L Jones 2,
    Duncan, Enis, Mills, Watkins). Steals: 13 (Canty
    3, Ezell 3, Baragry 2, Monteith 2, Duncan, L
    Jones, Mills).
    __________________________________
    Notre Dame         32   55  -   87
    Alabama            41   30  -   71
    __________________________________
    Technical fouls: None.  A: 4,011. Officials: Ray
    Bomeli, Teresa Dahlem, John Palermo.
    
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