Top-seed Notre Dame hands first loss to Oran to reach Holiday Classic final
In a Holiday Classic semifinal Thursday at the Show Me Center, top-seed Notre Dame outlasted fourth-seed Oran, 49-39.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 6-2 and advanced to Saturday night's championship game against Jackson at 6:30 p.m.
"As much as we turned the ball over, I'm surprised we only lost by 10 points," said Oran coach Ethan Evans, who saw his team lose for the first time this season.
Junior Katie Webb led all scorers with 22 for Oran (6-1), including 16 in the first half.
"In the first half (Webb) was getting a lot of touches," said Notre Dame's skipper Kirk Boeller, "and we had some late success in guarding her. (Webb) is a great player, phenomenal, and we had our hands full."
Evans had to tip his cap at Boeller's strategy.
"You know they did take (Webb) out of the game," said Evans, "so we had to find someone (else) open to knock down the jump shot."
For the losing Eagles coach, the defeat came down to turnovers and the failure to rebound better.
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"We got worked on the boards a few times for sure," said Evans.
It was a six-point game at the half, Notre Dame ahead 28-22, but the third quarter turned the tide the Bulldogs direction.
Notre Dame extended its lead to double figures, 44-31, by the start of the fourth quarter.
"It was close at half," said Boeller, "but we came out (in the second half) with intensity. I'm happy at the way we responded."
Oran outscored the Bulldogs in the second and fourth quarters while Notre Dame had the better of the Eagles in the first and third.
Both teams fouled out players in the waning moments of the contest.
Webb notched her fifth foul with 47 seconds left, and Notre Dame's Riley Burger went out about 20 ticks later.
Boeller said his players were getting tired in the final eight minutes.
"Part of (the tiredness) is we're not used to the bigger floor," Boeller said about the Show Me Center surface. "Our gym is quite a bit smaller and when we worked our press (defense), the girls' legs were a little wobbly."
Nonsense, said his counterpart.
"(Actually), a bigger floor should have helped us with their press," said Evans.
"(Notre Dame) is a really good Class 4 team," continued Evans, "and I thought we hung close."
Boeller says he knows what his team needs to work on before Saturday's title game.
"We will work on our communication on defense," said Boeller, "(because) there's a lot of room for improvement there."
Oran (39) -- Katie Webb 22, Taylor Lowes 8, Kaylee Payne 3, Hope Woodfin 3, Heather Gosche 2, Grace Davis 1. FGs 12, FT 11-16, F 18 (3-points: Lowes 2). Fouled out: Webb.
Notre Dame (49) -- Tori Rubel 9, Leah Jansen 8, Lexi Rubel 7, Delaney Dohogne 6, Riley Burger 6, Emily Kellum 5, Yasmeen Rodgers 3, Alora Smith 3, Allie Burnett 2. FGs 17, FT 11-22, F 17 (3-points: Dohogne, L. Rubel, Smith). Fouled out: Burger.