Allen's career-high 35 lead Notre Dame past Oklahoma in OT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame's Charel Allen saw the mismatches Tuesday night and didn't hesitate.

When she wasn't hitting midrange jumpers or 3-pointers, the fearless 5-foot-11 guard was driving repeatedly into the heart of Oklahoma's defense -- 6-4 Courtney Paris and 6-3 Ashley Paris. It was no contest.

Allen scored a career-high 35 points, had six rebounds and made all the big plays late to help Notre Dame rally from a five-point overtime deficit and beat fourth-seeded Oklahoma 79-75 in overtime.

"I just had the mentality that we were not leaving here without a win because I have never been to the Sweet 16," the senior said.

She is now.

The Irish (25-8) are headed to the regional semifinals in Oklahoma City, where they will face top-seeded Tennessee on Sunday. The Lady Vols routed Purdue 78-52 in Tuesday's other game, coach Pat Summitt's 100th career win in the NCAA tourney.

Allen's outburst wasn't exactly by design.

After spending the first half of Sunday's game in foul trouble, Allen responded with the biggest performance of her life. She hit 10 of 21 shots, all three 3-pointers and all 12 free throws and when the Irish needed her late, she did it all: force turnovers, score, draw fouls, even block shots.

It was just the kind of effort the Irish needed to get back to the regional semis for the first time since 2004.

"We had a lot of respect for her before tonight," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "I don't know that we expected her to go 3-of-3 from 3-point range and 12-of-12 from the line. That's pretty much perfect, and she made some really, really tough plays at the end. She played well."

Oddly enough, the Irish's biggest advantage Sunday -- inside play -- was their biggest weakness Tuesday.

They struggled against Courtney Paris, last year's national player of the year. She finished with 24 points -- all in the final 34 minutes after being shut out for nearly 12 -- and 16 rebounds. The performance extended her incredible streak to 92 straight games with a double-double.

Forward Amanda Thompson had 19 points, and guard Jenna Plumley finished with 18, all on 3s.

But even Paris' dominance inside, and the ability of her helpful teammates to hit critical shots, wasn't enough to thwart Allen and the Irish. Oklahoma (22-9) finished the season by losing four of five.

"I think it's a shame anybody has to lose that game, but give credit to Notre Dame," Coale said. "They were terrific from the line."

Nobody was better than Allen, who almost single-handedly erased a seven-point deficit with a little more than 8 minutes to go in regulation. Allen scored 10 points in the crucial 16-4 run, which gave Notre Dame a 65-60 lead with 2:02 left in regulation.

But the Sooners tied it on Paris' post-up basket with 13.7 seconds to go.

Allen had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but the shot bounced on the rim three times before falling off.

In overtime, Allen again brought the Irish back after Oklahoma scored the first five points. This time, Allen hit a 3, stole the ball and made the outlet pass that led to Ashley Barlow's layup to tie it at 70.

The Irish finally regained the lead when Barlow and Tulyah Gaines combined to make 3 of 4 shots, and Barlow and Allen sealed it by making their last four free throws. Barlow finished with 16 points.

"I know points is the big thing, but as for overall games, I can't think of a better game I've had," Allen said.