Davis scores 26, but Baylor loses 77-68 to Notre Dame in Elite Eight



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OKLAHOMA CITY — Baylor came painfully close to gaining the revenge it sought against Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish routed the Lady Bears last year in the regional final, and Baylor's players weren't shy about saying they wanted another crack at Notre Dame.

Though Nina Davis had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Notre Dame beat the Lady Bears 77-68 in the Oklahoma City regional final Sunday night to reach its fifth consecutive Final Four.

Baylor led by nine in the first half and was still up 7 minutes into the second half. But foul trouble and Notre Dame's depth turned the game in the Irish's favor.

The future looks bright, though. Sune Agbuke, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, is the team's only senior.

"This year, we made it to the Elite Eight, and we're disappointed because we couldn't make it further, but next year, man, they're going to be so great," Agbuke said.

Niya Johnson had 10 assists and Alexis Prince and Imani Wright each scored nine points for second-seeded Baylor (33-4).

Michaela Mabrey scored 14 points and Jewell Loyd added 13 points for Notre Dame (35-2), which won its 21st straight game. The Fighting Irish will play South Carolina next Sunday.

A 3-pointer by Madison Cable gave Notre Dame a 60-56 lead, and a pair of free throws by Loyd pushed the advantage to six with just under 10 minutes to play.

Agbuke, Baylor's 6-foot-4 center, picked up her fourth foul with just over 9 minutes to play, and Notre Dame continued to attack the basket. Cable's runner with just under a minute to go put Notre Dame up 74-68, and the Fighting Irish held on at the free-throw line.

Baylor made 12 of its first 18 shots to take a 26-17 lead. Baylor led 27-21 when Agbuke was called for a flagrant foul. Notre Dame's Brianna Turner hit two free throws, then Mabrey made a 3-pointer to cut Baylor's lead to a point.

"I don't throw elbows," Agbuke said. "I just felt like the rest of the game, the refs kept telling me don't give us something to look at, don't give us something to look at, like I was doing it on purpose, and I wasn't."

Mabrey made another 3-pointer to make it 31-all with just over 6 minutes left in the first half, and Notre Dame finally took the lead on a jumper by Allen with 12 seconds left in the first half that gave the Fighting Irish a 39-37 lead at the break.

Baylor was in foul trouble throughout the second half. Davis, Agbuke and Johnson each finished with four.

"You have to play smart at the end of the day," Johnson said. "I guess we tried to stay off of them. They were calling it pretty tight at the end, and I don't know — it was just difficult playing with four fouls."

TIP-INS

Baylor: The Lady Bears shot 49 percent in the first half. ... Agbuke, a senior, played a career-high 35 minutes. Her previous high was 32 minutes against Iowa on Friday. She never played more than 26 minutes in a game this season until the Sweet 16. ... Johnson had 46 assists and two turnovers in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: Loyd got hit hard on a screen in the closing seconds of the first half and remained seated on the court as time expired. She appeared a bit woozy when she got up and was helped to the locker room. She started the second half. ... Loyd made just 2 of 9 shots in the first half and just 5 for 18 for the game.

UP NEXT

Baylor: Season over.

Notre Dame: Plays South Carolina in the Final Four on Sunday.


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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