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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish complete comeback victory

| Monday, February 8, 2016

It wasn’t a buzzer-beating 3 or a half-court miracle heave, but No. 3 Notre Dame’s last field goal in Sunday’s matchup with No. 13 Louisville was the one it needed.

The Irish (23-1, 11-0 ACC) had finally taken a one-point lead over the Cardinals (18-6, 10-1) after trailing for nearly 32 minutes, but the pressure was on to pull out the win and take sole possession of first place in the ACC.

Fortunately for Notre Dame, Madison Cable doesn’t get rattled too easily.

The graduate student guard had just hit two free throws, the first to tie the game at 58 and the second to give the Irish the 59-58 advantage, and senior guard Hannah Huffman found Cable out on the wing a minute later, where she delivered a 3-point shot to extend the lead to four.

At that point, Notre Dame was able to hold off Louisville for the final two minutes for a 66-61 road win at the KFC Yum! Center, bringing the Irish win streak to 16 games and snapping the Cardinals’ after 15 straight victories.

“Everybody was just thrilled because it’s a huge road win against a great team in front of a big crowd,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “It was just an amazing atmosphere, and we kept our poise, and we found a way to win.”

The Irish closed the game by making six of their final eight shots, while the Cardinals connected on just two of their last 19 field-goal attempts as their upset bid came to a halt.

Cable’s big shot was one of only two 3-pointers she attempted Sunday afternoon, and Notre Dame as a team yielded an uncharacteristically unproductive performance from downtown, going just 2-for-9.

But, as she did in a close win over Duke just six days ago, Cable knocked down the key shot from long range when her team most needed it.

“I think Madison is — you know, you saw her at the end of the Duke game, big play, big defensive play, rebounds,” McGraw said. “ … I really think that Madison is one of the best players in the conference.”

McGraw said Cable wasn’t close to 100 percent before tipoff Sunday, and she tweaked her knee on a defensive play in the second quarter of the game, though she returned from the bench less than a minute later.

“She actually had turf toe and wasn’t really supposed to practice the last couple of days, and we didn’t know how much she’d be able to play,” McGraw said. “She turned her ankle maybe in the last game, so that was still a little bit sore, so she’s gonna need this week off, and that’s gonna be really good for her.”

Louisville saw its lead rise to as many as nine points in the first half over the Irish, who struggled to put up shots against the Cardinals’ defense and posted just 13 field-goal attempts in the first quarter to Louisville’s 20. Notre Dame also had difficulty boxing the Cardinals out on the defensive end, allowing 20 offensive rebounds during the game.

“They were really good defensively,” McGraw said of Louisville. “They’re very physical. We were trying to go inside, had some trouble getting the ball in, wanted to shoot a few more 3s, didn’t have a lot of openings. Defensively, I thought we had some breakdowns, and we didn’t rebound at all.”

Notre Dame trailed by five at halftime, 35-30, but Louisville came out strong to begin the third quarter, opening with an 8-4 run that forced McGraw to call timeout with the score at 43-34.

After that, however, the Irish quickly regrouped and went on a 9-2 run that sparked the comeback, never trailing by more than six points the rest of the way. Following that timeout, Notre Dame outscored Louisville, 32-18.

“I think it was more about keeping our poise and, ‘Here’s what we need to do, and here’s what we’re gonna run on offense, and let’s get some stops and get some rebounds,’” McGraw said. “I think they got a little more focused on rebounding.”

Cable picked up a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds while freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale led Notre Dame with 15 points. Sophomore forward Brianna Turner (13) and junior guard Lindsay Allen (12) rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Irish.

Irish freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale drives to the hoop during Notre Dame’s 82-46 victory over North Carolina State on Thursday at Purcell Pavilion. Ogunbowale scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed four rebounds during her team’s victory over Louisville on Sunday.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale drives to the hoop during Notre Dame’s 82-46 victory over North Carolina State on Thursday at
Purcell Pavilion. Ogunbowale scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed four rebounds during her team’s victory over Louisville on Sunday.

Sophomore forward Myisha Hines-Allen paced the Cardinals with 16 points before fouling out with three minutes to play on the call that led to Cable’s two free throws.

Notre Dame now has a week off before it returns to the Purcell Pavilion hardwood for an ACC matchup with No. 16 Miami (Fla.) next Sunday.

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Current Assistant Managing Editor, former Sports Editor of The Observer | Follow Mary on Twitter: @maryegreen15

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