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ND Women’s Basketball

No. 6 Notre Dame bests Boston College on the road

| Thursday, February 14, 2019

In their first game since dropping out of the top five, the Irish delivered a redemption performance against Boston College, picking up a 50-point win over the Eagles while simultaneously moving one step closer to cementing Arike Ogunbowale’s legacy, as the senior guard passed current associate coach Beth Cunningham on the list of all-time scorers in the program.

No. 6 Notre Dame (23-2, 10-2 ACC) wasted no time in the opening quarter, taking an 8-0 lead in the first 1:21. However, the Eagles (14-11, 3-9) responded with back-to-back layups to cut the deficit in half before senior forward Jessica Shepard poured in four points of her own as well as a steal to spark another Irish run. With two minutes left in the quarter, Boston College knocked down four-straight free throws and a jumper to bring the deficit within single digits. While the second quarter proved to be more of the same, as the Irish outscored the Eagles 29-11, the real show came after halftime, when the Irish found their offensive rhythm, recording 37 points, while maintaining lockdown defense to hold Boston College to seven points in the quarter. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw liked how her team was able to energize the offense through opportunities in transition.

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer
Irish senior guard Arike Ogunbowale dribbles down the court during Notre Dame’s 97-70 win over Florida State on Feb. 10 at Purcell Pavilion.

“I thought we rebounded well. We got the break going,” McGraw said in her postgame press conference. “I think when we can score in transition we’re hard to stop. That was the best part of the game.”

Returning to the court, the Eagles did their best to match the Irish, who outscored them 9-5 in the first three minutes. However, the real damage came in the remaining seven minutes, as Ogunbowale and co. went on a 26-2 run. This offensive performance saw all five starters contribute, as well as freshman guard Abby Prohaska. The reserve guard stepped up in the absence of fellow rookie guard Jordan Nixon, who injured her hamstring during warmups. Prohaska finished with four points, two rebounds and two steals.

McGraw credited this impressive performance in part due to the absence of Boston College junior starting guard Taylor Ortlepp, who was out of the lineup with an ankle injury. Although Ortlepp only contributed three points in the Eagle’s 29-point loss to the Irish on Jan. 20, she has proven to be a solid leader, averaging 11.6 points per game to go along with her 35.6 percent shooting from long range.

“I think without Ortlepp, that really hurt them. We were able to stay in the zone probably longer than we would’ve,” McGraw said. “We got shot out of the zone in South Bend so I think having her on the bench helped us.”

Having built a 59-point lead, the Irish lost some of their momentum in the final frame, allowing 18 points — as many as they did in the entire first half combined. However, it did show glimmers of what’s to come for the Irish in the years ahead, most notably in the form of Prohaska and sophomore forward Danielle Patterson, who tallied six points, seven rebounds — four of which were offensive — and a steal on the night. All five starters finished in double digits, led by Ogunbowale’s 23 to go along with her seven assists and three steals, all while only committing two turnovers. Those 23 points brought her career-total to 2,324, just 34 points short of passing 2013 graduate Skylar Diggins-Smith.

McGraw didn’t seem surprised by this achievement, saying it wasn’t even on their radar when Ogunbowale returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“She’s an amazing player. I think she’s the most exciting player in college basketball,” McGraw said. “When she get the ball in transition … you’re gonna get something good. She can pass, she can shoot, she can pull up, she can get all the way to the rim, she can finish with contact.”

With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Irish will take the weekend off before heading on a road trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on No. 12 North Carolina State on Monday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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