Notre Dame star Hannah Hidalgo misses several minutes of Sweet 16 defeat while staff struggle to remove nose piercing

No. 2 seed Notre Dame narrowly lost 70-65 to No. 3 Oregon State on Friday in the Sweet 16, as its star player Hannah Hidalgo missed over four minutes of the game during which team staff struggled to remove her nose piercing.

After playing the first quarter and scoring four points, All-American freshman guard Hidalgo was off the court for nearly half the second quarter as team staff struggled to remove her nose piercing with pliers.

Hidalgo told ESPN after the game that one official had said she could wear the nose piercing if it was covered up, before another said she had to remove it in order to play the game.

“I scored two baskets and then having to sit out for all that time, I was starting to get cold,” she said, adding that trainers couldn’t take the piercing out and caused her nose to bleed. “I think (the officials) were worried about the wrong things. They should have reffed the game.”

In the NCAA’s case book, which contains rulings to clarify interpretations of the regulations, it stipulates that if a player is found to be wearing jewelry they must remove it at the first dead ball and cannot return until after it is removed.

Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey told reporters that Hidalgo had worn a nose piercing all season without having to remove it. CNN has contacted the NCAA for clarification.

The Oregon State Beavers celebrate after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. - Sarah Stier/Getty Images
The Oregon State Beavers celebrate after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. - Sarah Stier/Getty Images

“I guess it was a point of emphasis in the Sweet 16 with jewelry,” Ivey said. “Just wish we would have known beforehand. Can’t control it so we had to move on but stoppage of time is never great when you’re trying to have flow.”

Meanwhile, Oregon State coach Scott Rueck told reporters postgame that he hadn’t heard about the nose piercing incident until they started asking him questions about it.

After returning to the court, Hidalgo went 0 for her next 11 shooting and didn’t make another field goal until the fourth quarter.

Nonetheless, she enjoyed a historic freshman season, ending it with a program record 160 steals and 790 points, the third highest total in program history.

She contributed 10 points in Friday’s game, while her teammate Sonia Citron led the way with 22 points.

However, Timea Gardiner scored 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for Oregon State, who next take to the court against South Carolina in the Elite Eight.

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