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Raina Perez rallies No. 1 NC State past Notre Dame

Mar 26, 2022; Bridgeport, CT, USA; NC State Wolfpack center Elissa Cunane (33) drives the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Maddy Westbeld (34) in the first half at Webster Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Raina Perez came up with a steal and layup with 16 seconds left for the go-ahead basket, lifting top-seeded North Carolina State to a 66-63 win over fifth-seed Notre Dame on Saturday in the Bridgeport Region of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

With Notre Dame leading 63-62, Perez swiped the ball from Notre Dame point guard Dara Mabrey at midcourt before cruising in for the basket.

The Fighting Irish had a chance to pull ahead, however, Maddy Westbeld missed a 3-point attempt with 8 seconds left. Perez was then fouled and made both free throws to cap the scoring.

The Wolfpack (32-3) rallied from down by as many as 10 points in the second half to advance to the Elite Eight. They advance to face the winner of the contest pitting No. 3 Indiana against No. 2 UConn.

Elissa Cunane had 16 points and Kai Crutchfield added 14 points for North Carolina State.

Olivia Miles led Notre Dame (24-9) with 21 points, while Westbeld added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Miles scored 15 points in the first half, helping Notre Dame jump to a 38-30 lead at intermission.

Down 16-12 at the end of the first quarter, Notre Dame made 10 of 13 of its shot attempts in the second half. The Fighting Irish finished the half shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range.

Miles scored five points during a 7-0 run in the second quarter with a driving layup and 3-pointer that extended Notre Dame’s lead to 36-26.

North Carolina State cut Notre Dame’s lead to 36-30 on a fast-break layup from Cunane, but Westbeld answered with a layup for the Fighting Irish with 48 seconds left in the half.

North Carolina State cut Notre Dame’s lead to 53-46 at the end of the third quarter and kept chipping away, twice cutting the Irish’s lead to two points in the fourth quarter. Cunane made one of two free throws with 36 seconds left to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 63-62.

–Field Level Media