DAYTON — Notre Dame and Oklahoma have developed a high-stakes rivalry simply because the Irish and Sooners seem to play nearly every season in win-or-go-home women's NCAA Tournament game.
Last season, the Sooners defeated Notre Dame in a Sweet 16 game.
Three years ago, when current seniors were freshmen, the Irish defeated OU in a second-round game.
This afternoon at University of Dayton Arena, they square off in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.
"We've been cheering for them because we wanted to see them again, show them what we've got," said Notre Dame senior Becca Bruszewski. "We wanted to play them. We're excited.”
Both NCAA Tournament games were decided in overtime. Both games dripped with drama.
In Notre Dame's win in 2008, the Irish trailed much of the game. OU All-American point guard Danielle Robinson, then a freshman, fouled out on a controversial foul that allowed Notre Dame to take the lead with 51 seconds left in overtime.
"I forget the girl's name but (Charel Allen) ended up having 35 points," Robinson said. "I was like, 'Wow,' welcome to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament."
Last year it was an OU senior, Nyeshia Stevenson, who hit the big shot, a 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left in overtime to break a tie in the Sooners' 77-72 win.
"You see those type of things happen all the time on TV," said OU senior Carlee Roethlisberger. "You think, 'One day, maybe that will happen to us.' When Nyeshia hit that shot, it was incredible."
Saturday afternoon, one team will advance to the Elite Eight. The other team will have a tear-filled postgame news conference.
"We've had great games because both teams play really, really hard,” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “Obviously by the time you get to this point both teams are really talented. The game last year in Kansas City was one of the most exciting games I've ever been involved in."
Is it a coincidence the Sooners and Irish ended up in the same regional again?
"I think the (NCAA Tournament) committee likes good television,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “We've had two great games. Hopefully, this will be another one."
Notre Dame senior forward Devereaux Peters watched from the bench in 2008 but played a key reserve role last season.
Peters said playing OU will “add to the excitement” but said the Sooners are a much different team.
"They shoot a lot of 3's after having a huge post presence last year and obviously my freshman year (with Courtney Paris),” Peters said. “We've also changed. We push it more in transition and play a lot more man-to-man (defense).
“We've got to stay on the 3-point line because if they hit 3's that will keep them in the game. And if we can slow down Robinson that will help a lot.”
These seniors actually have played three times.
Notre Dame defeated OU in the Virgin Islands tournament last season. Four months later, the Sooners won when it counted most.
"It's one of those situations they've probably posted it in their locker room all season," Roethlisberger said. "We know they're gunning for us. But we're not ready to go home, either. I'm a senior. I'm not ready to go out early like they did last year."