ND Women’s Basketball
Notre Dame makes statement in rout of No. 12 Louisville
Elizabeth Greason | Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Something clicked for the Irish on Monday night.
No. 7 Notre Dame (22-3, 10-1 ACC) took down ACC rival Louisville, 85-66, after turning on the heat offensively in what Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said was a stellar second quarter.
After a slow start in which the No. 12 Cardinals (20-6, 7-4 ACC) jumped out to a four-point lead, sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale took control of the Irish offense and maintained it for the rest of the game. Ogunbowale scored Notre Dame’s first six points to keep within reach of the Cardinals and then paced the Irish overall with 22 points.
Back-to-back buckets halfway through the first quarter from junior forward Kathryn Westbeld put the Irish ahead for the first time and the lead did not switch again. McGraw noted that Westbeld’s play is especially impressive considering she has not practiced since the Irish beat North Carolina on Jan. 22 due to an ankle injury.
“[Westbeld] is really playing well,” McGraw said. “I mean, 7-of-8 from the field. That’s amazing. Four assists — I mean she just really facilitates things for us at the high post and she can make that shot, so it makes us really hard to guard when she’s in the game. … She’s probably the one player on the team that’s capable of doing that. We’re gonna look at that, bringing her off the bench.”
The Irish entered the second quarter with a 19-14 lead and went on to put on a clinic. McGraw said she considered her team’s play in the second quarter to be some of its best so far this season.
“I thought [junior forward Brianna Turner] had some phenomenal tip-ins,” McGraw said. “We rebounded, we scored, we shot the ball well; we did everything we needed to do in that quarter.”
The Irish put up 31 points in the next ten minutes and stretched their lead to 22.
“I mean, 50 points at halftime, that’s pretty good,” McGraw said, laughing. “I’d like to see us do that every night.”
The Irish lead stayed stable in the second half as the numbers in various players’ stats columns continued to grow. Turner and freshman guard Jackie Young were both on double-double watch for much of the second half. Turner finished the game with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Young tallied 16 points and seven rebounds.
“I thought that was the best game [Young has] had all year,” McGraw said. “ … I mean, she had six rebounds at halftime. She was really attacking the glass. She looked really confident driving the ball. I’m just really pleased with her game. I think she’s really coming along. I’ve been waiting for this game and I think she has, too. And I think it’s gonna really fuel her confidence.”
Young credited Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham’s pre-game pep talk with Young as a major factor in the self-assurance she felt as she stepped on the court.
“Just, going into the game Coach Cunningham was talking to me, just trying to motivate me and just tell me that I really can score the ball,” Young said. “I just have to have confidence and not pass up open shots.”
Irish senior guard Lindsay Allen further solidified her Notre Dame legacy as she scored 15 points and picked up eight assists to move into second place on the Notre Dame all-time assists list, passing 2013 graduate and Irish icon Skylar Diggins. McGraw said Allen’s leadership and ability to see the big picture on every play have propelled the Irish to where they are today.
“[Allen] is so important to our team. She is the unquestioned leader,” McGraw said. “I’m glad she was able to make some shots tonight. She had opportunity, she took advantage of it. But, way to distribute. I mean, she’s got the amazing vision, she’s so strong with the ball, she can drive it, she can do so many things with it. I think she’s gonna be a great WNBA player.”
Turner noted the second half against the Cardinals made the game feel like one of the best of the year, as Notre Dame was able to string together two solids halves of basketball to finish the victory.
“It was really exciting,” Turner said. “Before the game we always talk about how we’re gonna go out and execute, and I feel like this is the first game we’ve put two halves together. Like, the first half in previous games, we kind of got complacent, but I feel like this game, we played the full 40 minutes and didn’t let down.”
Another statistic of note for the Irish was their lack of turnovers, only turning the ball over three times in the game to tie the school record, including no turnovers in the first half.
“I was so thrilled with the [lack of] turnovers,” McGraw said. “Three ties our school record, no turnovers at halftime. I thought there was a mistake on the stat sheet when I saw that. That was just a really, really well-played game.”
Despite the team’s dominance throughout the game, McGraw said she feels there is room for improvement going forward, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’ve gotta look at some trapping in the zone,” McGraw said. “We’re gonna look at another zone and maybe work on the presses a little bit.”
The Irish will have the rest of the week to recharge before they take on Georgia Tech at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.