ND Women’s Basketball
No. 3 Irish hold off comeback from No. 18 DePaul
Renee Griffin | Thursday, December 10, 2015
No. 3 Notre Dame hung on to defeat No. 18 DePaul, 95-90, on Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion, holding off the late-charging Blue Demons after taking a halftime lead of 65-39.
DePaul (6-3) started the game playing press defense but abandoned it at halftime when Notre Dame (8-1) made 76.5 percent of its shots from the field and sank 8-of-11 from outside the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Graduate student guard Madison Cable was responsible for four of those 3-pointers and added another in the second half. She finished with a team-high 21 points. Led by Cable, this year’s squad may be the best 3-point shooting team Irish head coach Muffet McGraw has had at Notre Dame, she said after the game.
The second half was a different story, as the Blue Demons switched to man defense and subsequently outscored the Irish 51-30, making McGraw sweat a little as the game clock ran out with Notre Dame’s previously-wide lead barely intact.
“Going into the second half, I was really, really, really concerned with how we came out of the locker room,” McGraw said. “They got on a 17-4 run. Our defense was absolutely unacceptable.
“That is not the way we want to play. I thought DePaul shot the ball really well, but we got complacent in the second half.”
Just behind Cable in scoring, freshmen guards Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale tallied 16 points each.
Mabrey got her first career start, but McGraw stuck with a rotation at the position. Ogunbowale and senior guard Hannah Huffman played significant time, while sophomore guard Mychal Johnson played the most minutes in a game in her career with 28.
The post game was more of a struggle for the Irish, as they recorded only six offensive rebounds. Star sophomore forward Brianna Turner is still sidelined with a shoulder injury, though her arm was no longer in a sling Wednesday.
Junior forward Taya Reimer played 16 minutes as she slowly recovers from an Achilles injury, and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld played only nine minutes despite starting. McGraw said Westbeld allowed some shots that should not have been open.
McGraw said she was pleased with how Notre Dame opened, but thought the team’s offensive aggression was lacking as the Blue Demons staged a comeback.
“They pressed us in the first half, which I thought we handled really well. I was really happy with that,” McGraw said. “But then they played us half court, which we had worked on, and we missed a lot of shots and didn’t really work for the shots that we could’ve gotten. We were content to take a jumper and maybe settled for some shots.
“We tried to drive the ball and didn’t have any success, with the exception of Arike, who I thought played very well tonight.”
Despite the underwhelming ending, McGraw said the game was be a positive experience for Notre Dame.
“It’s a win over a ranked team and a very good team. They’ve only got three losses, and to two of the top five, so they’re a good team,” McGraw said. “I think we learned a lot. We played well in the first half, can watch some film in the second half and figure out how we get better from there.”
Next up for the Irish is a road matchup at TCU on Saturday. Afterward, they will have a break until Dec. 21.
“Overall, four ranked teams in a row and finals coming up, we’re tired,” McGraw said. “We need to get it together for one more game. Good poise down the stretch, but not what we expected.”
Notre Dame faces TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas, at noon.