March 22, 2001
By the Associated Press
GAME: No. 5 Utah (29-3) vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (30-2).
REGIONAL: Midwest, semifinal.
TIME: Friday, 8:07 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Pepsi Center, Denver.
If the past is any indication, Notre Dame is on the verge of making
With a win over fifth-seeded Utah in the round of 16, top-seeded Notre
will match the school mark for most wins in a season. When last the Fighting
Irish won 31 games they ended up in the 1997 Final Four.
Notre Dame's 88-54 second-round victory over Michigan on Monday was its
straight home win, and put the Irish in the regional semifinals for just the
third time school history.
Notre Dame, which shot 51.5 percent from the field, including 44.4
(8-of-18) from 3-point range, was again led by national player of the year
Riley, who scored a game-high 21 points.
The Irish are making their sixth consecutive tournament appearance and
eighth overall under coach Muffet McGraw. A season ago, Notre Dame didn't
enough to make it to a regional final, losing to Texas Tech.
However, the Irish might have more than enough to get the job done this
season. In addition to Riley's dominant play in the paint, the team shoots
nearly 50 percent from behind the 3-point arc. The Irish also boast the
nation's top scoring defense, limiting opponents to 54.1 points per game.
Utah, which is making its first-ever appearance in the tournament,
to this stage with a 78-69 win over Iowa on Monday, despite allowing 20 more
points than its average for the season.
However, offensively the Utes can spread it around. Against Iowa,
Herbert scored 15 points, leading five players in double figures.
Utah will need a similar effort to defeat a team in Notre Dame that was
ranked first in the nation for a good portion of the season.
"It's so thrilling, we're so excited," point guard Amy Ewert said.
such a great step for this program. I can't wait to play (Notre Dame)."
PROBABLE STARTERS: Utah - F Kristina Andersen (9.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg), F
(7.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg), C Lauren Beckman (12.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg), G Kelsy Stireman
ppg, 2.6 rpg), G Ewert (9.3 ppg, 3.4 apg). Notre Dame - F Ericka Haney
ppg, 5.5 rpg), F Kelley Siemon (11.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg), G Ruth Riley (17.7 ppg, 7.5
rpg), G Niele Ivey (12.2 ppg, 7.0 apg), G Alicia Ratay (13.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Utah - At-large bid, Mountain West Conference, beat
Fairfield 79-57, first round, beat Iowa, 78-69, second round. Notre Dame -
At-large bid, Big East Conference, beat Alcorn State 98-49, first round,
Michigan, 88-54, second round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Utah - 3-10, 11 year. Notre Dame - 11-7, 7