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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish top IUP in resounding offensive performance

| Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Irish scored first, on a layup from graduate student guard Lili Thompson, her first points in a Notre Dame uniform. And Notre Dame was off, not looking back until it defeated Indiana University (Pennsylvania) (IUP), 108-40.

Anna Mason | The Observer

Within minutes, the Irish had racked up an appreciable lead over IUP. Led by sophomore guard Jackie Young, who maintained a perfect shooting percentage in the game’s opening quarter, going 4-for-4 — including a 3-pointer and a foul shot in just over five minutes — Notre Dame had tallied a 21-6 lead by the first media timeout. Young finished the game with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds on seven-for-eight shooting.

As the Notre Dame lead continued to grow, the Irish starters yielded the court to allow some of the squad’s new faces to see their first playing time in Notre Dame uniforms and eventually, every player on the Irish roster added to the scoring effort.

Freshman center Mikayla Vaughn made her presence known for the Irish right off the bat. Her 30 points marked a team-high. She added eight rebounds to that total. She was also a force defensively, tallying five blocks.

“I thought Mikayla Vaughn was really outstanding,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She missed one shot from the field, 30 points, eight rebounds, five blocks — not a bad way to start your Notre Dame career.”

Junior forward and Nebraska transfer Jessica Shepard, who received NCAA clearance to play the 2017–18 season Wednesday as a result of a hardship waiver filed by the program, totaled seven points, four rebounds and four assists on the night.

The favorable NCAA decision for the Irish will matter even more as the season progresses. The Irish lost two players in junior guard Ali Patberg and sophomore forward Erin Boley to transferring this offseason, as they left for Indiana and Oregon, respectively. And the Irish also lost two players to season-ending ACL injuries in senior forward Brianna Turner, whose injury came during Notre Dame’s second round of the NCAA tournament, and senior guard Mychal Johnson, who tore her ACL on Oct. 23 at practice.

“It’s been frustrating for us to watch the injured number grow and not know if Jess was going to be eligible,” McGraw said. “I think Mikayla was playing really well and that was the positive point of practice, so it’s always great to see that, but I think we all can breathe a little bit better and easier knowing we have a little more depth.”

Freshman forward Danielle Patterson also added four points and three rebounds to the stat sheet.

The Irish also added two walk-ons to their roster this season in sophomore guard Kaitlin Cole and junior forward Maureen Butler, each of whom suited up for the first time against the Crimson Hawks.

Cole’s four points each came on free throws. She also picked up three rebounds. Butler notched one point and one rebound.

The Crimson Hawks struggled to gain any sort of offensive momentum against the Irish, who frequently went on eight or 10-point runs. IUP also got into foul trouble, with junior forward Brittany Robinson fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Junior guard Carolyn Appleby, the Crimson Hawks’ leading scorer of the 2016–17 season, also found herself in foul trouble early on and ended the night with four fouls.

McGraw was all smiles after the game.

“I felt like it was a double-victory today, getting the clearance for Jessica Shepard a couple hours prior to gametime,” she said. “So, it was just great. It’s great for the team. Great for our depth, great for a lot of reasons. Overall, I thought [junior guard] Marina [Mabrey] and Jackie really played well. I thought they shot the ball really well, they defended well. Jackie with a double-double, Marina with nine assists, two turnovers. I was really, really impressed with the way they played … so, really, really pleased with how we played tonight.”

Vaughn said she was pleased with her 30-point performance after the game, but also feels there are still areas of her game she can work on.

“I think it’s really exciting and I’m excited for the rest of the season — I think we have a really tough schedule,” Vaughn said. “And I know that I’m going to have to do a lot more than scoring. I’m going to have to do more rebounding and more blocking and make sure that my defense is really on par with what our coaching staff really wants for us and I think that’s where we’re going to be really, really strong this year.”

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a junior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident of McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is the current Sports Editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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  • John

    But can they beat UCONN….