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ND Women’s Basketball

Notre Dame bounces back with 27-point rout of FSU

and | Monday, February 11, 2019

After suffering two losses in just over a week, No. 4 Notre Dame bounced back with a resounding 27-point victory Sunday, besting Florida State 97-70. The Irish (22-3, 9-2 ACC) looked more like themselves against the No. 24 Seminoles (20-4, 8-3 ACC) as epitomized by their first score, a layup just after tipoff by senior forward Jessica Shepard. Notre Dame continued to keep the momentum up in the first quarter, scoring on seven of their first eight possessions and playing with quick tempo.

Shepard said getting off to a quick start was key.

“I think every game it’s really important to get out a quick start,” Shepard said. “I think coming off a loss obviously it’s important that we come out strong and [have] a good first quarter. … We have a lot to improve on still to be the team that we want to be

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer

Irish sophomore guard Mikayla Vaughn looks for a teammate during Notre Dame’s 70-97 win on Feb. 10 at Purcell Pavilion.

Senior guard Arike Ogunbowale echoed Shepard’s sentiments.

“[We have to] just be aggressive from the start, from the tip,” Ogunbowale said.

As the quarter wore on, Florida State kept themselves in the game with a couple of buckets from redshirt junior forward Kiah Gillespie, and Notre Dame let their seven-point lead start to slip away as play got sloppier. But a jump shot from Shepard with five seconds remaining extended the Irish advantage again, and Notre Dame closed out the first with a 28-22 lead.

The Irish finally got their feet under them in the second, outscoring the Seminoles 24-16 to extend their lead to 14. Led by gritty play from freshman guard Abby Prohaska, Notre Dame started to take control offensively. The second quarter effort was also led by Ogunbowale and Shepard, who, at the half, accounted for 35 of the team’s 52 points.

“I’m really happy with the offense,” head coach Muffett McGraw said. “I thought we had a lot more movement today, I thought we got into a little better rhythm. We were able to get the break going because we rebounded better. I was overall pleased with pretty much everything happening on the offensive end. I thought Arike looked like her old self. She shot the ball really well. Jess did a lot of really good things so it’s great, great to feel like we kind of got it back a little bit.”

One of the only downfalls of the second quarter was the injury of sophomore center Mikayla Vaughn, who exited the court after taking a hit to the head.

“[I] think she has a concussion, so she’ll probably be out for definitely the next game and then we’ll see,” McGraw said.

Despite Vaughn’s injury, the Irish ended the half up 52-38.

Notre Dame continued its intensity with the start of the third quarter, stifling the Florida State offense and taking off offensively with a 15-0 run. The Irish out-rebounded the Seminoles 17-9 in the quarter and continued to shoot well, with 6 different players notching points. Outscoring Florida State 22-12, Notre Dame ended the quarter with a 24-point lead, 74-50.

The final quarter saw more of the same from the Irish, who continued to take the ball inside with authority, finishing layups and drawing fouls. Prohaska continued her productive performance, tallying six points, five rebounds and two assists in total. With a final score of 97-70, Notre Dame left Florida State in the dust, bouncing back from a painful road loss to Miami (FL) last week.

Perhaps even more notable than the final score, however, was Notre Dame’s pink-trimmed uniforms, worn in accordance with the fact that the matchup was tagged as a Pink Zone Game. The tradition is part of an initiative which was started in 2007 to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“You start to realize that you’re playing for something and there’s something more important than the game that’s going on today,” McGraw said. “Just to think about all the women that have fought through this disease. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so it’s always a kind of an emotional day, it’s a special day, love seeing all the pink. I love seeing all the strong women coming out and um filling the arena.”

Ogunbowale also said she felt the tradition was important.

“It was definitely an important game and we definitely want to honor everybody that was affected by it,” Ogunbowale said.

Shepard said she felt similarly, noting that it is important to recognize the ramifications of cancer across all lives.

“We were just out there playing for … anyone who’s fought the battle and just the families that have gone through that,” she said.

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