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ND Women’s Basketball

Madison Cable leads Notre Dame in top-10 win

| Thursday, December 3, 2015

For their second game in a row, the No. 3 Irish were tasked with putting away an opponent in a down-to-the-wire game. This time, it came against No. 10 Ohio State on Wednesday, with Notre Dame just barely pulling out the 75-72 victory at Purcell Pavilion.

However, the challenge was greater Wednesday than it was during last Saturday’s overtime win against No. 24 UCLA because the Irish (7-0) were without their two leading post players, junior Taya Reimer and sophomore Brianna Turner, who are nursing Achilles and shoulder injuries, respectively.

Graduate student guard Madison Cable stepped in to lead the way by picking up her second double-double in an Irish uniform with a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. Fifteen of those points came on 5-of-9 shooting from behind the arc, including a 3-pointer she hit with 56 seconds left in the game to retake a late lead for Notre Dame at 72-70.

“I was kind of open, and I knew that we needed to shoot it and at least try to get a rebound if it didn’t go it, and I thought I had a decent look, and luckily, it went in,” Cable said of the late-game 3.

Irish graduate student guard Madison Cable searches for a teammate during Notre Dame’s 74-39 win over Toledo on Nov. 18.Kat Robinson | The Observer
Irish graduate student guard Madison Cable searches for a teammate during Notre Dame’s 74-39 win over Toledo on Nov. 18.

“I think Maddie’s playing with a ton of confidence right now,” junior guard Lindsay Allen said. “Her 3-point shot is working really well for her. She’s always played really, really hard for us, and so I think we’re really confident whenever Maddie’s in the game, and she can give us any spark that we kinda need in the moment.”

Before Cable made the 3-pointer, Ohio State (4-3) had just gained a 70-69 lead off a free throw from sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell. Mitchell, who led the country in scoring last season at 24.9 points per game, paced all players with 27 points, despite not making her first field goal until the beginning of the second quarter.

However, she came on strong after that as the Buckeyes took advantage of poor Notre Dame play in the second half, when it made just 10 of its 35 attempts from the field (28.6 percent).

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a little more in the second half,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought we just made some errors that we don’t usually make, turning the ball over, and just allowed a lot of 3s, but overall, I thought we got our composure when we needed to.”

The Irish led by as much as seven in the second half but saw Ohio State cut into that before taking the lead with 2:11 left on Mitchell’s free throw and then tying it back up at 72 on a layup by senior guard Ameryst Alston with 37 seconds on the clock.

Irish sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld was fouled on Notre Dame’s next possession and made the second of her two free throws to reclaim the Irish lead at 73-72. Cable grabbed the rebound off a missed jumper from Mitchell, was fouled by the Buckeyes to stop the clock with seven seconds left and converted on both her free-throw attempts to make the final score 75-72.

With Turner and Reimer sidelined, McGraw played a four-guard, one-forward lineup for just about every bit of the 40 minutes in Wednesday’s dogfight, and Westbeld was on the court for 35 of those minutes, collecting 14 points and six rebounds.

Despite the shortage of post players, the Irish outrebounded the Buckeyes, 45-34, though 19 of those 45 came on the offensive glass and several of the 19 during their second-half struggles. Notre Dame also struggled in containing 6-foot-2 junior forward Shayla Cooper, who had picked up a double-double by halftime and totaled 18 points and 15 rebounds in her 36 minutes on the floor.

“She was a warrior on the glass, and we needed it because they’re a great rebounding team,” Buckeyes head coach Kevin McGuff said. “But overall, I thought this was probably her best game.”

Junior Lindsay Allen added 20 points, five assists and six rebounds for the Irish. The point guard contributed on defense as well, taking charges on back-to-back possessions with Notre Dame ahead by just one point in the fourth quarter, taking away layups that would have given Ohio State the lead.

The win, part of the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge, gave the Irish their 14th consecutive victory over current Big Ten teams and their 21st consecutive victory in games decided by single digits or overtime.

It also pitted McGraw against McGuff, who coached as an assistant under McGraw at Notre Dame from 1996 to 2002. Additionally, Irish associate coach Niele Ivey began her own coaching career as an intern under McGuff at Xavier from 2005 to 2007.

“I hate it,” McGraw said of facing McGuff, who is also married to Letitia Bowen, one of McGraw’s former players and coaches at Notre Dame. “I really hate it because we spent so much time together here; we have such a history, with the whole family, with Letitia, with the team and our staff.

“Once the game starts, we completely forget, and we’re competing. I don’t think either one of us thinks anything — looking down the sideline, it just doesn’t enter my mind. But before the game was hard, and after the game is hard.”

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Current Assistant Managing Editor, former Sports Editor of The Observer | Follow Mary on Twitter: @maryegreen15

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