ND Women’s Basketball
Irish dominate Hurricanes behind hot first half offensively
Mary Green | Monday, February 15, 2016
Since joining the conference two-plus seasons ago, No. 3 Notre Dame had lost just once to an ACC team, a defeat that came to Miami (Fla.) last season.
The Irish made sure loss No. 2 didn’t come to the No. 19 Hurricanes on Sunday, when they cruised to a 90-69 win at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame (24-1, 12-0 ACC) avoided a potential early pitfall delivered four minutes into the game, when junior guard Lindsay Allen was whistled for her second foul and stayed on the bench for the rest of the first half.
While the Irish have struggled in previous games without Allen on the court, they hit their stride this time around, shooting 61.5 percent in the first half with senior guard Michaela Mabrey piloting the offense to a 44-25 halftime lead.
“I think with Michaela in the game, she’s smart, and she’s gonna get us into stuff,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She’s going to get the right people the ball. I was surprised we were up by that much at halftime without Lindsay in the game.”
However, without Allen, whose 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio leads the ACC, Notre Dame had trouble controlling the ball, turning it over 23 times. Miami (22-4, 9-4) collected 21 of its 69 points off Irish giveaways.
“Really sloppy — I think that they were careless turnovers,” McGraw said. “I don’t think they were created by the pressure as much as by ourselves, trying to overpass, which happens sometimes when you have an unselfish team.”
“My god, if they hadn’t turned it over 23 times, they would’ve had 115 points on us, for real,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said.
While the Irish scored easily and often for the first three-and-a-half quarters of the game, the same cannot be said for the Hurricanes, who shot just 30.6 percent in the first half and 38.2 percent for the game. Irish sophomore forward Brianna Turner tallied a season-high six blocks as she led a defensive front that outmatched and outsized Miami’s offense.
The Hurricanes had trouble stopping Notre Dame on offense as well, and the Irish led by 12 points at the end of the first quarter, 19 at the half and as many as 36 in the fourth quarter.
“Notre Dame does that to you because you feel like you’re just chasing the ball around,” Meier said. “I mean, it gets deflating. It hurts your ability to be, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get up in them, I’m gonna get up in them.’ And then they’re like, ‘Layup. Darn. Oh, alley-oop.’ They do deflate you with their ball movement, but no excuse.”
Freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale paced Notre Dame with 18 points while Turner (15), Allen (12) and freshman guard Marina Mabrey (14) also finished in double figures.
Miami junior guard Jessica Thomas and freshman forward/center Emese Hof each totaled 12 points for the Hurricanes as Notre Dame managed to hold their usual scoring leader, junior guard Adrienne Motley, in check with just eight points.
“Our 2-3 zone was very effective,” McGraw said. “They’ve got great guards. Thomas and Motley are two of the best in the conference, and we did a pretty good job on Motley, but Thomas really played well.”
Sunday’s matchup also served as Notre Dame’s annual PinkZone game, part of the Play4Kay series of women’s college basketball games held nationwide to raise awareness for breast cancer while honoring the life of late North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow. The Irish played in an alternate gray uniform with pink accenting, while the Hurricanes took the court in pink jerseys.
The win also marked the first game Notre Dame has played since McGraw was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 last Friday, alongside NBA legends such as Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal.
“It’s an honor just to be on the ballot,” McGraw said. “It just speaks to all the amazing women I’ve had the chance to coach, all the amazing assistant coaches. I’ve had so much help — a lot of people around me making me look good. I’m honored.”