ND Women’s Basketball
Notre Dame dominates in first action of season
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, November 4, 2016
Notre Dame overwhelmed Roberts Wesleyan from start to finish, defeating the Redhawks 129-50 Thursday.
The Irish got out to a quick start against the Redhawks, as junior forward Brianna Turner tipped the ball to sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale, who promptly put the Irish in the lead with a 3-point shot just seven seconds in. From there, the Irish never looked back.
The Redhawks struggled to keep their fouls under control from the very beginning, tallying seven personal fouls in the first quarter alone. Freshman guard Jackie Young and freshman forward Erin Boley both saw their first collegiate action during the first quarter, scoring five and four points, respectively. Young’s shooting percentage was perfect on her two attempts, while Boley’s defensive prowess showed through her two defensive rebounds.
Irish head coach Muffet McGraw was satisfied with how her two freshman performed in their first game.
“Great start for the freshmen,” McGraw said. “Really, really pleased. I thought that both of them came in and just looked really comfortable. I thought they got great shots, did some good things on defense. Really, really happy. For the first time in a uniform in front of the fans, I thought they were exceptional. So, that was a great thing.”
Boley said she was pleased with her first time taking the court in an Irish uniform and feels that she will really start to settle in as the season progresses.
“I was a little bit nervous coming out, but I think, like [McGraw] said, I felt pretty comfortable,” Boley said. “I think I’m starting to feel more comfortable every day just playing with this team, and I thought that — I think we have a lot to work on still, definitely, but it was a good start.”
Ten minutes in, the Irish held a commanding 19-point lead and had kept Roberts Wesleyan to just 13 points.
The second quarter might as well have been an episode of the Marina Mabrey show. The sophomore guard dominated the Redhawks, both offensively and defensively, starting with a steal that led to a mid-range basket. Mabrey followed it up with a 3-pointer from the corner, a layup off a steal from Boley and another mid-range jump-shot. Mabrey finished the first half with 14 points, a steal and a perfect 3-point shooting percentage.
Mabrey’s command of the second quarter helped push the Irish into halftime with a 65-29 lead.
Notre Dame turned up the heat defensively after the half, managing to hold the Redhawks to only four points in the third quarter. Steals from Mabrey and Young kept Roberts Wesleyan’s field goal attempts to a minimum. Despite being a leading scorer in high school, Young said, at the moment, she is focused on doing what she can to aid the Irish squad defensively, which will eventually lead to scoring.
“For this team, my role, I’m just trying to play defense, get rebounds and do the dirty work that some of the players did last year,” Young said. “I’m just trying to fill [my] role, and the scoring will come from the defensive effort, and so, as long as I play defense, the rest will come.”
Young had three steals and seven defensive rebounds in her 25 minutes on the court. She also had a strong offensive showing, scoring 15 points, making six of ten shots, and picking up five assists in her debut.
While Mabrey earned the title of Notre Dame’s leading scorer, with 28 points, she was closely followed by senior forward Kristina Nelson, who picked up 24 points, and Boley, who went on a tear in the fourth quarter to score 22 in her collegiate debut.
Both McGraw and Nelson said the senior is on a completely different level than last season, in part due to a newfound confidence.
“It’s a big stride from last season, but I think I worked really hard in the off season to get to there,” Nelson said. “I know [McGraw] trusts me, and I’ve gotten a lot more confidence in myself, so I think I’ve earned [playing time]. … I think if I have confidence, then I can do everything. “
Despite the blowout win, McGraw felt there were ways in which the Irish could have better, especially in the first half.
“We were only up two at the half, rebounding-wise,” she said. “I was a little disappointed in the rebounding. But we ended up [ahead] 14, so that was a good finish. Our goal is 10, always out-rebound them by 10, so we did a better job, I thought, in the second half.”
After their 79-point victory in the exhibition game, the Irish will host the WNIT preseason tournament starting next week, as they will play against Central Michigan on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.