ND Women’s Basketball
Lindsay Allen leads Irish past Colonials in first round of NCAA tournament
Benjamin Padanilam | Saturday, March 18, 2017
There is no doubt that senior guard Lindsay Allen is an important part of No. 1-seeded Notre Dame’s success.
But that fact was apparent even in a 30-point victory, as her play dictated a large part of the outcome in Notre Dame’s 79-49 win over No. 16 seed Robert Morris on Friday at Purcell Pavilion.
After giving up an uncharacteristic 10-0 run to the Colonials (22-10, 14-4 NEC) in the first quarter, the Irish (31-3, 15-1 ACC) found themselves in a 10-10 draw midway through the quarter. The quick lead they had gotten off to was gone, and Irish head coach Muffet McGraw was not pleased with her team’s defensive performance.
“I was surprised with how poorly we played defensively in that stretch,” McGraw said. “We were switching on the ball screen, and probably that was just a bad idea on my part.”
But Allen picked the team up, spearheading a 14-2 run to push the Irish to a 24-12 lead by the end of the period. The senior scored on two coast-to-coast layups — drawing a foul and converting on the foul shot in one instance — and assisted on a 3 by sophomore guard Marina Mabrey to stabilize Notre Dame’s play.
The second quarter made her importance clear in a different way. After picking up her second foul on a charge, Allen was brought to the bench from the 6:25 mark in the quarter and stayed there until the end of the half. Notre Dame turned the ball over four times in the period, and saw their lead only increase by two by the end of the quarter.
But once she was back on the court in the third quarter, the Irish regained its offensive efficiency. Despite allowing a four-point play to Colonials senior guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou, the Irish jumped out on a 12-4 run, with Allen scoring five of the points. The Irish would firmly control the game from there, outscoring the Colonials by 16 in the second half — eight-point margins in each quarter — to bring the game to its final score of 79-49.
Allen, who finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists, said much of her offense came by taking what the Colonials’ defense was giving her.
“I think just the way they were playing their ball-screen defense,” Allen said of what caused her to be more aggressive in attacking the paint to score. “Every team is always so concerned about [junior forward Brianna Turner] and how she rolls and just how much space she takes up, so I think for us — the guards — it’s just kind of reading the defense a little bit and then kind of hesitating and then going, because they were backing up. They were hedging hard and coming out to us, and then they were backing up, so it’s just waiting a second, being patient and then just attacking the gap.”
And while Allen’s impact was evident in the team’s play, she was not the only guard with a big performance. All three of Notre Dame’s starting guards — Allen, Mabrey and sophomore Arike Ogunbowale — scored in double figures, as Mabrey and Ogunbowale both had a team-high 15 points. Mabrey would also contribute defensively with four steals, while Ogunbowale added seven defensive boards as part of her 10 rebounds in the contest.
The Irish out-rebounded the Colonials 52-23 in the win, with Notre Dame’s guards securing 30 of those boards. Much of that difference was due to the teams’ differential in shooting percentage — while Notre Dame shot 52 percent from the floor, Robert Morris only managed to shoot 27 percent. Despite several clean looks from what McGraw called “big breakdowns” defensively, Robert Morris struggled to hit on its high-percentage looks, which Colonials head coach Charlie Buscaglia credited to Turner’s athleticism and presence in the paint.
“It’s tough … Turner takes away so much at the rim,” Buscaglia said. “She had five blocks, but she changed a lot of [our shots], too. We had some great drives and some great punches in the gap, getting the ball deep into their paint — and that’s one of the big things that we always are trying to do is get into the other team’s paint and keep them out of our paint, that’s kind of our philosophy. And when we got into the paint, a lot of the times — she’s really special around the basket. She’s long, athletic [and] she’s got great coordination, and that really hurt us.”
All in all, behind the play of Allen and Turner, Notre Dame came away with the victory it sought, and McGraw said she thought she saw a lot of good things from her team and expects them to be ready for Sunday’s matchup with ninth-seeded Purdue.
“Well, we got the [win]. This time of year, survive and advance — there’s no looking back,” McGraw said. “We’re not going to watch that film, we’re just going to move, so I think experience for the freshman [was the biggest positive]. They struggled a little bit in the beginning of the game, so to get that experience from them.
“To just get out and play after being off for so long showed us how rusty we were, so I think [this game did] just a lot of really good things [by] getting us ready.”