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ND Women’s Basketball

Ogunbowale, ND continue hot streak

| Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The No. 4 Notre Dame women’s basketball team proved its dominance yet again last night, besting No. 17 Syracuse in a powerful 30-point road win, 98-68. The Irish (26-3, 13-2 ACC) were led by senior guard Arike Ogunbowale, who notched 24 points, grabbed four steals and went four-for-four from the free-throw line. Another key player for the Irish was graduate student forward Brianna Turner, who recorded a season-high 22 points to accompany her eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

“I thought we did a really good job, particularly in the first half, of looking inside,” head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were trying to find Brianna Turner, and we had an opportunity to go to her quite often, and I thought that was effective. We were trying to go a little more in the high-low game today than shoot perimeter jumpers, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer

Freshman guard Jordan Nixon looks to drive in Notre Dame’s PInk Zone game in Purcell Pavilion against Florida State Feb. 10.

The Orange (20-7, 9-5 ACC) hung with the Irish for the first quarter behind a collective offensive effort and strong shooting game from the perimeter. The Irish also shot well from behind the arc, but their strong post play gave them the advantage at the end of the first, pulling ahead 24-19 after 10 minutes of play.

Despite hanging around in the first quarter, Syracuse let Notre Dame take control of the game in the second, as the Irish outscored the Orange 22-8 behind a 16-0 run and pressured their opponents into a 5:30 scoring drought. Going into halftime, the Irish had two players in double digits, with Turner and senior forward Jessica Shepard scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively. Not far behind were senior guards Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale, who went into the break with nine and eight points, respectively. The Orange struggled from all sides of the floor in the second, and with their 34.5 percent field goal shooting to Notre Dame’s 48.8, the former went into the break on the wrong side of a 46-27 score.

The Irish brought more of the same pressure in the second half, opening play with an 18-7 run to keep their momentum going and build their lead to 30 points at 64-34. But after an electric start, Notre Dame faced a 3:28 scoring drought of its own, allowing Syracuse to go on a 10-0 run to close the gap to 20 points, 64-44.

“Their press bothered us a little bit in the second half — we lost our composure for just a short stretch,” McGraw said. “Fortunately, we had a big lead at the time and then we were able to get back.”

The Irish closed the game with a huge offensive effort, with the final quarter being their highest scoring at 29. Holding Syracuse to 21 in the final period of play, Notre Dame finished the game with a 30-point lead, besting the Orange by a final score of 98-68.

All five Irish starters ended the night in double digits, with notable scorers beyond Ogunbowale and Turner being Shepard and Mabrey at 17 points each, while junior guard Jackie Young had 10. Notre Dame also continued to shoot well from the outside all night, recording a solid 43.8 percent from behind the arc at the close of play.

“I think we probably shot it better than we normally do today,” McGraw said. “Seven-for-16, that’s, I think, above our average. So, I thought we did a good job of that.”

Ogunbowale echoed her coach’s sentiments, noting the importance of the team’s shooting for its overall performance.

“I think we were just on,” Ogunbowale said. “It was a good day for us, shooting the 3-pointer. I don’t think really anything was that different … credit to our post. They have a good inside-out game. They’re able to find the guards on the perimeter.”

The Irish now look forward to their final game of the regular season, as they host Virginia this Sunday for Senior Day. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

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