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ND Women’s Basketball

Irish dominate in exhibition win

| Monday, November 9, 2015

It wasn’t a perfect performance for No. 3 Notre Dame, but the Irish still had no trouble dispatching Wayne State in their sole exhibition game at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, emerging victorious, 101-52.

Notre Dame started with some mistakes, turning the ball over only seconds after sophomore forward Brianna Turner won the tipoff and again on its second possession. The Irish soon got on the scoreboard thanks to a free throw from junior guard Lindsay Allen, and Allen’s distribution helped Notre Dame extend its lead, as she added five first-quarter assists, bringing the score to 18-8 at the end of the first period. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said her team’s early mistakes could be attributed to nerves.

“In the first half, you’re in your uniform for the first time; you’re excited to be out there,” McGraw said. “I think we were all trying a little too hard. There were some easy shots available that we weren’t looking for. We were trying to force it inside because we thought we had an advantage in there, we kept talking about getting the ball inside, and we passed up some shots because of that.”

Graduate student guard Madison Cable looks to pass during Notre Dame’s 63-53 loss to Connecticut in the NCAA championship game in Tampa, Florida on April 7. Cable scored 12 points in Saturday’s win.Observer File Photo
Graduate student guard Madison Cable looks to pass during Notre Dame’s 63-53 loss to Connecticut in the NCAA championship game in Tampa, Florida on April 7. Cable scored 12 points in Saturday’s win.

The Irish offensive mistakes continued early in the second quarter, particularly when Allen was off the court, but the team cut down on them towards the end of the half, allowing the Irish to take a 46-25 lead into the half.

Defensively, the Irish looked more convincing and forced the Warriors to shoot from 3-point range. Most of the Warriors’ offense came from the perimeter shooting of senior guard Brittany Streetman, who made five 3-pointers in the first half and seven of her nine total attempts, all in the first three quarters. Graduate student guard Madison Cable played a key part in the Irish defense, with six rebounds and four steals in the first half. She ended the game with nine boards as well as 12 points, narrowly missing out on a double-double. McGraw said Cable’s defensive performance was a sign of her importance to the Irish this year.  

“It was disappointing that she didn’t get that last rebound,” McGraw said. “Of course, she didn’t play as much in the second half, but she’s somebody that is going to be the glue to our team.”

In the second half, the Irish offense performed more consistently. McGraw said that playing without pressure was the key to the reduced turnover count.

“In the second half we were relaxed, went out and played more freely,” McGraw said. “I know we had 11 turnovers at halftime. I didn’t keep count in the second half, but I knew we did better there.”

A key to the second-half performance of the Irish was the performance of freshman guards Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale. Mabrey was the top scorer on the day, with 22 points, while Ogunbowale added 14. McGraw said she was particularly impressed by their performances.

“Both freshmen played really well,” McGraw said. “It was great to have them both out there. Arike came into the game and gave us a huge lift in the first half. She did some really good things and drove the ball well. Then, in the second half, Marina came alive.”

For Mabrey, it was her first action playing alongside her sister, senior guard Michaela, since they were in high school. The pair linked up effectively in the fourth quarter, with Michaela assisting her younger sibling for a score three times, including a lob pass to make the score 88-43. The freshman said the play was one the sisters had worked on for years.

“We actually used to do that one a lot in high school, so I was expecting her to throw it,” Mabrey said. “After the play she said ‘I knew you were going to catch that.’ I was ready for it.”

Notre Dame was able to give every healthy player on its roster time on the court, including junior forward Kristina Nelson, who hadn’t seen action for a year due to a shoulder injury. Nelson chipped in with eight points and four assists, and McGraw said she was impressed with how she played in the wake of the injury.

“She’s been playing that way in practice,” McGraw said. “She’s got a really soft touch around the basket, she’s got that midrange jumper, she can pass. Defensively she tried to take a charge, which I think was great to see.”

Ogunbowale put the finishing touches on the scoreline, bringing Notre Dame into triple digits with nine seconds left. Despite the early mistakes, McGraw said the game was a good tune-up for the Irish.

“I thought we did some good things today,” McGraw said. “We struggled a bit on offense when Lindsay went out of the game, I think that’s something we have to work on. Defensively, we could have done a little better. I thought we rebounded the ball well, and we got the break going. It was a good first game for us. We have a lot of things to work on, and this game showed us some of those things today.”

Notre Dame begins regular season play at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday, when it will face Bucknell.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

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