- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IND. (AP) - Notre Dame’s home-court advantage was no match for Minnesota’s 3-point shooting and strong rebounding.

The Gophers started the game by making 11 of 13 shots and opened a 14-point first-half lead, then used timely 3-point shooting to hold off Notre Dame 79-71 on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Emily Fox scored 23 points and Katie Ohm added 15 to pace the Gophers, who shot 49 percent from the field. Zoe Harper had 13 rebounds as the Gophers (20-11) outrebounded the Irish 45-32.

Ashley Barlow led Notre Dame (22-9) with 20 points.

The Irish, who twice this season overcame 14-point deficits to win, including coming back from a school-record 18 points down against Vanderbilt in December, couldn’t pull even after the Gophers shot 63 percent in the first half to lead 42-30 at intermission.

Notre Dame used a 9-2 run to close to 50-44 with 15:12 left on a three-point play by Melissa Lechlitner. Moments later, the Irish cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3-pointer by Becca Bruszewski, but the Gophers answered with three 3-pointers by Ohm, Ashley Ellis-Milan and Fox to move ahead 67-56 with 5:12 left.

The Irish, who shot 33 percent, never got closer than six again. The 49 percent shooting was the highest by an opponent against Notre Dame this season _ even better than unbeaten and top-seeded Connecticut.

It marked the second time a 10th-seeded Minnesota squad knocked off No. 7 seed Notre Dame. The same thing happened in 1994, the first time the Irish hosted an NCAA tournament game. It was just the third time in 16 tournament appearances the Irish have lost in the first round.

The Gophers scored on 13 of their first 17 shots, with two of those baskets coming off missed shots, to a 33-19 lead on a basket inside by Ellis-Milan. They led 42-30 at halftime.

Minnesota, which had lost four of its last five heading into the Trenton regional, avoided being knocked out of the tournament in the first game for a third straight time.

The Irish fell to 6-2 all-time on their home court in NCAA games.



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