Oregon State frustrates Hidalgo and beats Notre Dame 70-65 in Sweet 16

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Oregon State's bigs played huge and the Beavers held Notre Dame star Hannah Hidalgo in check on Friday to advance to the program's first regional final in six years.

Timea Gardiner scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Raegan Beers added 18 points and 13 boards in the 70-65 win over the second-seeded Irish.

Donovyn Hunter added 11 points for the third-seeded Beavers (27-7), who will face overall top-seed South Carolina on Sunday. The Gamecocks hung on to beat Indiana 79-75 in Saturday's second game.

Oregon State shot 60% from the floor, while keeping Notre Dame to 36% and outrebounding the Irish 42-24.

“All of us over the spring, over the summer and into this year we came in with the mindset of understanding what we needed to accomplish defensively in order to win those close games,” said Gardiner. “So this year that core group, we know what it takes now. So we know what it takes to win. We’re obviously doing it, so it’s super fun.”

Sonia Citron scored 22 points and Maddy Westbeld added 19 points Notre Dame, which lost for the first time in 11 games and finishes the season at 28-7.

Hidalgo, who came in averaging 22.9 points, was held to just 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting, matching a season low in scoring.

She also missed about four minutes at the start of the second quarter after officials ordered her to remove a stud from her nose, which is not permitted under NCAA rules.

“I guess it was a point of emphasis in the Sweet 16 with jewelry and she’s had a nose ring the entire season,” Coach Niele Ivey said. “Just wish we would have known beforehand. Can’t control it, so we had to move on, but yeah, stoppage of play is never great when you’re trying to have flow.”

Oregon State led by a point at halftime, but opened the second half on an 11-2 run, capped by a layup from Gardiner that forced an Irish timeout.

Notre Dame came back, taking a 59-57 lead on a pull-up jumper from Anna DeWolfe with just over four minutes left in the game.

But a 3-pointer from Donovan put Oregon State back in front for good.

Hidalgo’s off-balance shot with a minute left made it 65-63, before Gardiner found Beers underneath with 26 seconds left to stretch it to four.

Talia von Oelhoffen then blocked a 3-point attempt from Westbeld and sank two foul shots on the other end.

“I hear all the time, you guys got lucky because they missed shots,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “I would tell you, well, they’re shooting the shots we want them to shoot and they don’t normally shoot.”

Notre Dame has been using a six-player rotation since losing 6-foot-4 forward Kylee Watson, who tore an ACL in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

Oregon State capitalized on their height advantage early, throwing the ball into the paint. The 6-2 Beers and 6-3 Gardiner combined for 14 of the Beaver’s 17 first-quarter points.

The short-handed Irish also dealt with early foul trouble. DeWolfe picked up two in the first quarter and Westbeld had three by halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State: The Beavers have now held 14 opponents this season to at least 10 points below their season average. Notre Dame came into Friday's game averaging 79 points a game.

Notre Dame: The 10 points ties a season low for Hidalgo, who hit just two of her first 13 shots. But she also forced two 10-second backcourt violations on Oregon State and many of the Beavers 26 turnovers.

"It’s tough because you know I was on a roll and having to sit out for five minutes because of a nose ring is BS,” Hidalgo said.

UP NEXT

Oregon State has advanced past the Sweet 16 just twice before, reaching the regional finals in 2018 and the 2016 Final Four.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness