March 15, 1998
Notre Dame Upsets Top-Seeded Texas Tech, 74-59
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Notre Dame had the answer to beating No. 6 Texas Tech all along. Trouble was, she was stuck on the Fighting Irish bench.
After playing less than a minute of the first half, Ruth Riley scored all 23 of her points in the second to lead Notre Dame to a 74-59 upset of the top-seeded Lady Raiders in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
"It was really frustrating to sit on the bench," said Riley, who picked up two fouls in the opening 47 seconds. "I felt bad just to sit there. I felt like I had to come out the second half and do something for the team."
Tech (26-5) had no answer for Riley's 6-foot-5 frame. She shot 9-for-12, constantly converting lob passes and tip-ins into easy baskets to send the Fighting Irish (22-9) to the regional round.
The game stayed tight until midway through the second half when Notre Dame ran off 12 straight points to take a 55-44 lead. The host Lady Raiders never threatened again.
Tech coach Marsha Sharp said she didn't know why the Lady Raiders couldn't force Riley to shoot farther from the basket.
"You have to give credit to Notre Dame," Sharp said. "They came out with a Final Four mentality and we ran away from it."
Ninth-seeded Notre Dame, which reached the Final Four last season, will return to Lubbock next weekend for the regional round. Tech had the chance to play four straight home tournament games had it kept winning.
Sheila McMillen added 13 for the Irish. Alicia Thompson, a first-team All-America forward playing her final game for the Lady Raiders, led Tech with 17.
The Lady Raiders shot just 21-for-63 from the field, including 3-for-17 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Thompson and Angie Braziel found themselves swarmed on the inside by the Fighting Irish's collapsing defense.
"They really concentrated on the post area because we did well there (Friday)," said Thompson, who scored 39 in Tech's 87-75 first-round victory over Grambling State. "They knew where to stop us and they did."
Tech became the tournament's second top seed in as many nights to fall at home. Injury-riddled Stanford lost 71-67 to 16th-seeded Harvard on Saturday.
"They amazed me," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I'm proud to see our team come out with such poise, to come out and beat a team like Texas Tech."
Notre Dame had been 0-5 against ranked foes this season, while the Lady Raiders had won 12 in a row and all nine of their previous NCAA tournament home games.
Sharp regretted that her players will be spectators for next week's games here.
"A lot of people have worked hard to bring this regional to Lubbock, including myself," said Sharp, who admitted the pressure of being a top seed at home might have rattled her team.