ND Women’s Basketball
Mabrey leads Notre Dame to win over BC
Greg Hadley | Monday, February 9, 2015
On an afternoon when most of Notre Dame’s starters were resting on the bench early in the second half, Irish coach Muffet McGraw did not have a substitute for Michaela Mabrey.
Instead, the No. 4 Irish rode the junior guard’s hot hand to an 89-56 win over Boston College on the road Sunday.
Mabrey, Notre Dame’s best shooter from long range, torched the Eagles (10-13, 2-8 ACC) for 36 minutes, connecting on six of nine 3-point attempts, scoring a career-best 20 points and dishing out a game-high five assists.
“Michaela Mabrey got some good work on the point,” McGraw said. “She had a really good game — scored a career-high and did a really good job of finding the team.”
No other Irish player was on the floor for more than 25 minutes in a contest in which Notre Dame (23-2, 10-1) took the lead within 10 seconds on a Mabrey 3-pointer and never looked back.
“I was really, really happy with this game,” McGraw said. “We put a couple of new wrinkles in. We’re working on some things offensively that we’re trying to perfect, and we got some great work with that against man-to-man. We worked on the press a little bit, and that was pretty effective. I think we really got a lot out of this game.”
The win marked Notre Dame’s second victory over the Eagles this year. After losing their second game of 2015 to Miami, the Irish returned home Jan. 11 and dominated Boston College, running away with a 104-58 decision.
“When you play somebody for a second time after beating them pretty easily the first time, you worry about the motivation, the intensity, how we’re going to come out,” McGraw said. “I was really pleased how we came out in this game.”
Ten minutes into the game, the Irish led by 20, thanks in large part to four 3-pointers from Mabrey. She finished the first half shooting 5-for-6 from downtown.
Mabrey’s outburst came on an afternoon when Notre Dame’s leading scorers, junior guard Jewell Loyd and freshman forward Brianna Turner, shot 5-for-15 from the field. It was only the fifth game all year in which neither has led the Irish in points.
Despite Loyd’s struggles shooting the ball (3-for-10), McGraw said the ACC’s leading scorer made an impact in different ways.
“She really helps with the press,” McGraw said. “She’s really good on the ball. She plays the passing lanes so well. Just her ability to get to the basket … I mean, she got to the free-throw line a lot. She does so many things, so I’m really happy with her.”
Loyd, along with the rest of Notre Dame’s starters excluding Mabrey, got plenty of rest throughout the game, giving the Irish bench opportunity to outscore Eagles reserves, 31-7. Senior guard Madison Cable led the way, collecting 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
The Irish will have even more time to rest now, as they have the entire week off from competition before they welcome Duke to Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 16. In the meantime, McGraw said, they will look to add layers of complexity to their defensive game, especially after allowing Boston College to shoot 45.1 percent from the field.
“Yeah, [they] were a little better than I hoped,” McGraw said. “Overall, we did a pretty good job, but they’re such a hard team to defend because they move without the ball. They’re such good 3-point shooters [and] it’s kind of a four-out motion, so we have some of our bigs defending on the perimeter. They did a really good job.”
The extra week of rest will also help the Irish stay fresh mentally as they make their way through February and towards the postseason, McGraw said.
“February is a real grind,” McGraw said. “The season is long, so it’s kind of nice to have a week off. We can work on a lot of new things … to move forward on both ends but primarily on the offensive side. We have so many things we’re working on, so it’s nice to focus on ourselves and not an opponent.”
Notre Dame has a week off but returns Feb. 16 to play Duke at Purcell Pavilion.