ND Women’s Basketball
Notre Dame crushes NC State behind 25 from Cable
Greg Hadley | Friday, February 5, 2016
Stuck in the midst of a mini-shooting slump, No. 3 Notre Dame took comfort in the familiar Thursday night, routing North Carolina State, 82-46, at Purcell Pavilion.
Graduate student guard Madison Cable led the Irish (22-1, 10-0 ACC) with 25 points, which tied her career high, and seven rebounds, while junior guard Lindsay Allen posted 10 points and eight assists. Cable has now appeared in 132 games for the Irish, the most on the team, and Thursday marked Allen’s 100th consecutive start.
“I’m just happy we won,” Cable said. “I just thought some of my shots were falling in where other nights they wouldn’t. But it’s easy when the people that are looking for you are making good passes. … Lindsay [Allen] had eight assists, so people were making good passes. We play well together.”
Entering Thursday’s matchup, Notre Dame had not played at Purcell Pavilion in 11 days and had just posted back-to-back games with fewer than 70 points for the first time all season, shooting just 38 percent over that span. And early on, it seemed as though the team’s shooting woes had followed them back home, as the Irish failed to score for nearly two minutes.
But Cable finally got things started with a 3-pointer 1:55 into the game that gave Notre Dame a lead it would never relinquish. Indeed, throughout the first quarter, the Wolfpack (17-6, 7-3) had no answer for Cable, who scored 13 points in the game’s first eight minutes.
“Madison was unbelievable,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She tied her career high, just made everything. I think she made some huge plays, scoring in a little different way tonight. She moved without the ball well, moved off the dribble well.”
Overall, Notre Dame finished the game shooting 52.6 percent from the field, just above its season average.
“Coming off the last few games where we really haven’t played well offensively, it was nice to have a really good game,” McGraw said. “ … The bench continues to play well. [Freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale] came off the bench and gives us that instant offense. We needed some punch early and she gave that to us.”
Ogunbowale was the only Irish player besides Cable to score more than two field goals in the first quarter, and she ended the game with 10 points, one of five Notre Dame players to score in double figures.
But the increase in offense did not come at the expense of the squad’s defense, as the Irish limited their opponent to fewer than 50 points for the third time in the past four games. The Irish now lead the ACC in points allowed per conference game.
“The defense has been really good,” McGraw said. “I looked the other day and saw we were first in the conference. … That’s astounding. That never happens. It was really, really nice to see that.
“We’re normally up there offensively, but it’s a nice change to be up there defensively. It means we’re really working hard. And that’s where you see the team chemistry, on the defensive end.”
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner has been key to that defensive surge, McGraw said. She recorded two blocks Thursday night, her 12th straight game with at least that many, and she leads the Irish in rebounding.
But though Notre Dame won on the boards against NC State, 38-28, perhaps the strongest part of its defense was its ability to steal the ball from the Wolfpack. The Irish swiped the ball 13 times Thursday, their highest total in nearly a month, led by sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld, who recorded a career high with four steals.
Those steals led to 10 fast break points for Notre Dame, which helped to spark the team’s offense, McGraw said.
“We really got the transition game going,” McGraw said. “… We’re not great with steals. We’re getting better. I thought we did a pretty good job tonight.”
With the victory, Notre Dame tied a program record of 31 straight home conference wins. The Irish will have the opportunity to break that record Feb. 14 against Miami (Fla.)
Before that, though, the Irish will face No. 13 Louisville on the road this Sunday. The Cardinals (18-5, 10-0) have won 15 straight and are tied with Notre Dame atop the ACC standings. Led by sophomore forward Myisha Hines-Allen, Louisville has four starters who average more than 11 points per game.
“It’s going to be a huge game. This stretch that we’re in now … the top of the league is coming up,” McGraw said. “They’re a really good team, a really young team. They’ve got a lot of talent.”
Notre Dame faces Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center this Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.