ND Women’s Basketball
Notre Dame aims to make history at ACC tournament
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, March 2, 2018
Notre Dame will begin its quest to make history Friday, as it could become the first school in ACC history to sweep both the regular-season and conference tournament titles in five-consecutive years.
The Irish (27-2, 15-1 ACC), who come into the tournament as the No. 2 seed after losing the tiebreaker to regular-season co-champion Louisville, will play No. 7-seed Virginia.
Heading into action Friday, Notre Dame is riding a hot streak as they won 12-straight games to wrap up the regular season, including an 86-67 victory Sunday against No. 21 North Carolina State. Leading the way in the win were Notre Dame’s top guards in juniors Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey and sophomore Jackie Young, who combined for 60 points among the three of them. Going back to its time in the Big East Conference, this year marks Notre Dame’s seventh-straight regular-season conference title, good for the third-best active streak in the country behind Baylor and Green Bay. The win leaves the Irish at 77-3 in the ACC. It also gave Notre Dame its eighth victory over a ranked opponent this year, tying it with UConn for the most in the country.
Heading into the tournament this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Irish will be looking to the top players to continue to produce, especially Ogunbowale, who was just named a semifinalist for the Citizen Naismith Trophy Women’s College Player of the Year as well as an Ann Meyers Drysdale Award finalist for best shooting guard in the country. Ogunbowale led the ACC in regular-season scoring at 20.3 points per game. She sits in the top-15 in the ACC in free-throw percentage, steals, 3-point shooting percentage, defensive rebounds and minutes played.
Additionally, the ACC all-conference team was named this week. In addition to Ogunbowale, Mabrey and junior forward Jessica Shepard were named to the team. Ogunbowale and Shepard were named to the First Team and Mabrey made the Second Team. This marks the third time in five years Notre Dame has boasted three all-conference honorees.
With its attention now turned toward the tournament, Notre Dame will look to continue its string of success in conference postseason play, as only the Irish and Albany of the America East conference have won their conference tournaments each of the past five years. Just last year, Notre Dame’s path featured wins over Virginia (18-12, 10-6) and Louisville (29-2, 15-1) before defeating Duke in the championship. Both Ogunbowale and Mabrey were named to the All-ACC Tournament Team last year.
The Irish have reason to be confident heading into their matchup Friday, as they are 3-0 versus their potential opponents, beating Georgia Tech (18-12, 6-10) 77-54 on Jan. 7 and 85-69 on Feb. 11 as well as defeating Virginia 83-69 on Feb. 15. Should they advance, the ACC semifinals will be held Saturday followed by the championship Sunday. A potential highlight of the tournament would be a rematch between the Irish and Louisville, as the Cardinals defeated Notre Dame 100-67 in January.
The ACC tournament begins Friday at 6 p.m. for the Irish, who will take on Virginia at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.