The Fighting Irish (3-0) held off a stubborn effort by Green Bay in Thursday’s semifinal, posting a 71-67 victory over the Phoenix and extending their winning streak at home to 33 games. Arike Ogunbowale has been the leading light on offense, scoring a career-high 30 points in a Round 1 victory versus Central Michigan and contributing a game-high 18 points in the tight contest against Green Bay.
Thursday’s win also marked the debut of prized freshman Jackie Young, who was the Naismith National player of the year and logged 15 minutes of action. She missed the first two games while recovering from a thumb injury.
The Huskies (3-0) had to juggle their lineup for Thursday’s semifinal victory against Missouri, with starters Katie Collier (knee) and Kelli Kingma (hand) out of action. The team didn’t get any points off the bench, but Kelsey Plum was her typically productive self with 32 points, and fellow senior Chantel Osahor came through with 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. UW coach Mike Neighbors called it Osahor’s best career overall game.
Collier is expected back for Sunday’s game. She has been an inspirational figure for the program after fighting back from leukemia. Kingma may be out for several games with a broken bone; the Huskies turned to Nebraska transfer Natalie Romeo as a replacement, and she hit four 3-pointers in the Missouri contest.
Kelsey Plum (2,508) continues her move up notable career-scoring charts and is now the No. 3 all-time scorer in the Pac-12. Two Stanford players are in the way from the top spot – Candice Wiggins (2,629) and Chiney Ogwumike (2,737).
Notre Dame is certainly not hiding its talent this season, with many difficult games looming on the schedule. The Irish will play Iowa, UConn, DePaul and Michigan State in a three-week stretch starting at the end of November. The Huskies will not be easing into their schedule, either. The team has three straight road games at the end of November, and then will soon face a treacherous trek in the Pac-12. Washington will play at Oregon (Dec. 30) and Oregon State (Jan. 1), and then lock horns with ninth-ranked UCLA on Jan. 8.
-Both Washington (1994) and Notre Dame (2004) have won a Preseason WNIT championship.
-Washington has made 41 3-pointers through 3 WNIT games, smashing the old record of 33 in 4 games set by Bowling Green in 2009.
-Kelsey Plum has sank 12 3-pointers, she needs just one more to break the all-time WNIT record for most in a tournament. 12 - Kimberly Wilson, Arkansas, 1995 ; 12 - Ta’Wuana Cook, North Carolina A&T, 2009.
-Washington broke the WNIT record for most three-pointers in a game with 16 against Colorado State. The Huskies hit 15 against Missouri in the semifinals.
-Notre Dame made a WNIT record 40 field goals against Central Michigan in the opening round.
-Notre Dame dished out a WNIT record 29 assists in the win over Central Michigan in Round One.
-Notre Dame enters the championship game ranked No. 1 in both polls. It’s the first time since 2011 that a No. 1-ranked team is playing in the Preseason WNIT. In that year, No. 1 Baylor defeated No. 2 Notre Dame in the championship game, 94-81.
-In this year’s tournament, the home teams have won all but one game. Missouri knocked off Nebraska 55-35 in the quarterfinals played in Lincoln.
-Washington is averaging 93 points per game in the WNIT for a total of 280 through 3 games. They would need to score 88 points against a stiffling Notre Dame defense to break the all-time scoring mark set by Ohio State (367) in 2009.
CBS Sports Network will televise the championship game of the Preseason WNIT live on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. ET, with Thad Anderson (play-by-play) and Curt Miller (analyst) calling the game.
Miller spent 13 years as an NCAA DI head coach compiling a 290-124 overall record and earning six conference Coach of the Year awards. Miller is currently the head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. Anderson has called play-by-play for the WNIT since 2007 and currently calls games for ESPN, CBS Sports Network, and the Pac 12 Network.