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ND Women’s Basketball

Young emerges from the shadows to power Notre Dame in 58-point second half of Elite Eight win

| Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Everyone remembers the shot, but what about the pass?

Often lost among the hundreds of thousands of Youtube views and fans that tuned into last year’s national championship game that propelled Arike Ogunbowale into national stardom is the inbounder — Jackie Young.

A year ago Monday, Young timidly made her way up the ladder to claim her piece of the net that cemented her legacy as a national champion. Fast forward 365 days and the 6-foot junior guard from Princeton, Indiana — a city of less than 10,000 — confidently grabs the net, waving it in the air and turning to the crowd, no signs of reservation or uncertainty in sight. This shift in demeanor is simply the byproduct of Young coming into her own this past season, emerging as a leader within an already extremely experienced lineup.

Of course, it also may have something to do with the fact that she near single-handedly led her team in securing their ninth Final Four appearance.

If Stanford (31-5, 15-3 PAC-12) learned anything in its 84-68 Elite Eight loss to Notre Dame (34-3, 14-2 ACC) on Monday, it is to never count Young out.

Although Young ended up leading all scorers with 25 points, the halftime stat sheet would tell a different story.

Anna Mason | The Observer

Notre Dame junior guard Jackie Young looks up court in a Sweet 16 matchup against Texas A&M on March 30. The Irish prevailed in the contest by a score of 87-80.

After going 1-7 from the field in the first half — relying primarily on her 4-4 performance from the free-throw line to keep her involved in the offense — Young returned to the court at Wintrust Arena locked in. When she continued to struggle to find her shot in the opening minutes of the half, she did what she does best — everything else.

“It was difficult at halftime. We kept talking about how it was mostly us,” head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We were getting the shots we wanted to get, we just weren’t making them; that we were going to be able to make them the second half.”

Playing within a prolific offensive starting unit that just set the NCAA record for most combined points at 10,700 can sometimes mean sharing the ball more than expected. Knowing the ball isn’t always going to be in her hands, Young has distinguished herself as a true Renaissance woman: securing rebounds, picking passes and doing everything else needed to help lift her team to a win.

Time and time again, players and coaches alike have commented on Young’s value to this team and how easily she can get overshadowed by her teammates’ accomplishments.

It’s hard to believe someone currently projected to go sixth in the 2019 WNBA Draft — the highest among any of her teammates — could be considered underrated. Yet here we are, talking about her as the silent assassin of the team, quietly sneaking her way to a double-double and shutting down opponents on both sides of the ball.

While teammate Ogunbowale has become defined by her “ice-in-my-veins” mentality and Marina Mabrey has collected a highlight reel full of deep 3-pointers and crafty steals, Young has quietly etched herself into Irish lore, becoming the first player in program history to record two triple-doubles in the same season.

Returning to that matchup against the Cardinal, Young missed her first layup attempt of the second quarter, leaving the packed crowd of Notre Dame fans weary, having just witnessed 20 minutes of play in which the Irish seemingly couldn’t buy a bucket. Two defensive rebounds later, however, and it’s go time for the Third-Team All-American.

“I thought that we kept our composure and were able to just lock in and focus for the second half. We knew that the shots were going to fall in the second half, and that’s what they did,” Young said. “But I think it had a lot to do with our defense and just getting rebounds.”

A wide open drive to the lane by Young sparked baskets by Mabrey, senior forward Jessica Shepard and graduate student forward Brianna Turner to cut the once nine-point Irish deficit to one. Now the madness of March is ready to ensue.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Young dribbled left off a Turner screen into the middle of the drive to stop for the mid-range jumper. With 6-foot-5 Cardinal post-player Shannon Coffee stepping up, Young elevated to help the ball find nothing but net. This move — a signature of Young’s — gave the Irish a one-point lead, a lead they would only go on to extend on their way to a commanding 16-point win.

Never one to force things, Young said she understood the importance of working with what the defense gave her.

“I thought I was aggressive the whole game, and I just kept that same mindset, and the shots were starting to fall,” she said. “They were sagging off me a little bit, so I just had to read the defense and take what they were giving me.”

Young went on to add five more points in the quarter to contribute to Notre Dame’s 26-13 run following the halftime break.

Although 10 of her 25 points were scored in the fourth quarter, the damage had been done for Stanford. Once you let her find her stride, there was no shutting her down, as she went on to claim her 10th double-double of the season, snagging 10 rebounds in a game very much defined by each team’s ability to protect the lane and execute on second-chance shots.

As Notre Dame prepares to defend its title down south in Tampa, Florida, all eyes will likely be on the usual suspects. This time, don’t be surprised to find Young among them.

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