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ND Women’s Basketball

Michaela Mabrey, Madison Cable lead ND from beyond the arc

| Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Michaela Mabrey and Madison Cable weren’t much of 3-point shooters during their rookie seasons. In the 2012-2013 campaign, both guards averaged under two attempts per game and shot below 36 percent.

That season, the Irish converted 34 percent of their attempts from long range, ranking 41st in the nation.

Three years later, the senior Mabrey and graduate student Cable are two of the most prolific 3-point shooters in program history, and No. 3 Notre Dame leads the NCAA in 3-point shooting percentage.

In fact, the 2015-2016 squad might be the best 3-point shooting team head coach Muffet McGraw has ever had, she said.

“I think to be a good 3-point shooting team, you have to have a really short memory. You have to be able to miss some shots and just move on and take the next one,” McGraw said. “And I think that’s what we’re doing well. We’re really smart, and we’re taking shots when we feel like it’s in the flow of the offense.”

The Irish (19-1, 7-0 ACC) have let loose from beyond the arc almost 15 times per game this year, and 44.2 percent of the time, those shots are going in.

And as Mabrey and Cable have taken on leadership roles on the team, they have continued to fire away from 3-point territory and passed on that aggressiveness to their teammates, especially Mabrey.

Irish senior guard Michaela Mabrey drives towards the basket during Notre Dame’s 79-66 win over Tennesse on Jan. 18.Grace Tourville | The Observer

Irish senior guard Michaela Mabrey drives towards the basket during Notre Dame’s 79-66 win over Tennesse on Jan. 18.

“She’s the one, when you come into practice, right away you’ll know who’s in charge of the team, and she’s done just a fabulous job of helping the freshmen,” McGraw said. “That’s probably the biggest role that she plays is what she’s doing with the freshmen, helping them grow, helping them to learn how things work, being encouraging, and yet at the same time trying to hold them accountable.”

Not that the freshmen have been all that shy about shooting the 3. Guards Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale rank third and fourth on the team in 3-point attempts, and both are shooting above 40 percent.

McGraw has constantly called the two freshmen “fearless” in their first collegiate season, and as they have grown more comfortable, they’re beginning to try more shots from downtown, she said.

“They are just fearless and confident, and that is what’s really helping us, and I think they both play different roles,” McGraw said. “Arike is shooting more 3s now than she was before. She’s mixing in driving, pull-up jumpers and the 3. Marina’s doing the same thing when she’s getting to the basket, but she’s also shooting 3s.”

Irish freshman guard Marina Mabrey plays defense during Notre Dame’s 79-66 win over Tennessee on Jan. 18 at Purcell Pavilion. Mabrey is shooting 48.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line this season.Grace Tourville | The Observer

Irish freshman guard Marina Mabrey plays defense during Notre Dame’s 79-66 win over Tennessee on Jan. 18 at Purcell Pavilion. Mabrey is shooting 48.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line this season.

But Michaela Mabrey and Cable remain the most prolific 3-point shooters on the squad. In Notre Dame’s 90-62 win over Syracuse last Thursday, Mabrey attempted 10 3-pointers, and Cable put up seven.

Indeed, the pair are chasing history in their final season with the Irish. Mabrey currently sits fourth in program history in career 3-point field goals made and attempted and fifth in career 3-point percentage, while Cable is second only to NCAA-record holder Alicia Ratay in career 3-point percentage. Cable is also shooting 48.9 percent from beyond the arc this season, which would put her second in team history for a single season.

Cable’s mark is tied with Marina Mabrey for tops on the team and in the ACC, and the graduate student and freshman, along with Michaela Mabrey, are constantly putting up long-range shots in practice in a friendly competition, according to McGraw.

Beyond personal pride, however, all those 3-pointers have helped the Irish in other facets of their offense. Because opponents have to respect the team’s ability to shoot the 3, the post game opens up and sophomore forward Brianna Turner has more room to work, McGraw said.

“They really complement each other well, so when we shoot 3s well, it helps Bri, and when Bri’s scoring, it helps the 3-point shooters,” McGraw said. “They can’t double down, and they can’t pack it in, so … that’s obviously the way to succeed is to have the inside-outside combination.”

Notre Dame next travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech, who ranks 212th in the country in 3-point defense. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg