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ND Women’s Basketball

Arike Ogunbowale looks to extend scoring record against Syracuse

| Monday, February 25, 2019

Notre Dame will look to build upon its four-game winning streak in conference play as the team travels to upstate New York for a road matchup with Syracuse on Monday.

The Irish (25-3, 12-2 ACC) most recently routed the Blue Devils (89-61) the same night senior guard Arike Ogunbowale became the program’s all-time leading scorer, topping Skylar Diggins-Smith.

“Really happy for Arike, she didn’t waste any time,” head coach Muffet McGraw said after the game Thursday. “She didn’t keep us in suspense too long, taking care of business. What a momentous day, she was really on point today.”

Ogunbowale scored 25 points, needing only 12 to claim the top spot on the scorer’s list.

Associate head coach Niele Ivey echoed McGraw.

“It’s such a remarkable accomplishment,” Ivey said. “She’s exceeded my expectations.”

With a number of games remaining for the Irish this season, Ogunbowale continues to distance herself from Diggins-Smith’s score.

Ogunbowale said Diggins-Smith reached out to her before she claimed her new title.

“She messaged me before the game and said ‘good luck’ and to do well,” she said.

Similarly, No. 18 Syracuse (20-6, 9-4) comes off a recent blowout victory against ACC foe Pittsburgh. The Orange beat the Panthers by 27 points behind a well-balanced team effort, with four different players scoring double digits, including 17 points off the bench by freshman guard Emily Engstler.

A recurring theme for McGraw throughout the season, defense will continue to be a priority for the Irish heading into the final stretch of ACC play.

“Maybe we’re a little more woke than we had been previously, [since losing to Miami on Feb. 7],” McGraw said, prompting a laugh from Ogunbowale. “I would say that I’m always looking for perfection and we’re just so far away from it that it’s hard for me to see the good things right now.”

Notre Dame currently stands atop the ACC conference standings with a 12-2 record, tied with No. 4 Louisville. Syracuse trails Notre Dame by two-and-a-half games, positioned in fifth place.

“I’m looking for a team that can do what we did in practice and bring it into a game,” McGraw said. “We’re just not able to do that. I would be really happy if we could take from the huddle and bring it to the court. We’re not able to do that. We have got a lot of room for improvement.”

Over Syracuse’s last four games, the Orange have reached 90 or more points on offense twice. In the eyes of the Notre Dame coaching staff, the play defensively needs to elevate.

“Defensively, it’s been our Achilles’ heel all year long,” McGraw said. “ … Until we get better defensively, I don’t know how far we’ll go.”

The Orange have proven to be tough opponents, having lost to the Irish by only 15 last season.

“It’s going to be another big top-25 matchup,” Ivey said. “Syracuse is an incredible program. They play really well at home. A lot of people [are] coming out, but every night we have that target on our backs.”

The Irish will be in search of their 13th conference victory against Syracuse. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

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