Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

WBB: Irish Look to Get Back on Track on the Road

December 7, 2018

After last Sunday’s disappointing loss in the long-awaited matchup with UConn, the Notre Dame women finally return to action tomorrow on the road against the Toledo.  The Rockets stand 6-2 on the season with four wins in a row and all on the road.

Toledo is averaging 65.4 points per game.  The Rockets shoot 42% from the field, 65.5% from the line, and just 28.7% from three.  They average 4.6 made three-point shots per game.  Toledo’s starting lineup includes three seniors and two juniors and features three international players.

Toledo’s leading scorer is forward Kaayla McIntyre, a 6’2” senior, who averages 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.  She makes 58.6% of her field goals, but only connects on 63.3% of her free throws.  

Junior guard, Mariella Santucci, is the team’s only other double-figure scorer at 11.5 points per game.  The 5.6” junior guard is from Italy and adds 4.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.  She is only shooting 39.4% from the field and just 22% from three.

Another international player, Sara Rokkanen, is the team’s best three-point shooter.  The 5.10” junior guard from Finland has taken 41 three-point shots this season and made 17 (41.5%).  She averages 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Mikaela Boyd, a 5.7” senior guard, averages 9.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.  She shoots 39.6% from the field, 16.7% from three and 58.1% from the line.

The last starter is Sarah St-Fort, a 5’10” senior forward from Montreal.  She averages 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. 

The Rockets’ top two reserves are sophomores Nakiah Black (5’10” guard) and Tanaya Beacham (6’1” forward).   Together they average just under 10 points a game.

Toledo averaged 4,519 fans for their first two games this season in their home arena, which seats 7,300 overall.  There should be a large crowd at Saturday’s game against the now second-ranked Irish.

Saturday’s game may mark the return of freshman point guard Jordan NIxon, who has missed the last five games after suffering a concussion at DePaul on November 17th.  The Irish need her to return because there is currently only one healthy guard on the bench, Abby Prohaska.  Notre Dame announced today that freshman guard Katlyn Gilbert is out for the season. She will soon have surgery on her injured right shoulder. She plans to redshirt. 

Backcourt injuries have forced the starting guards to play extended minutes in each of the last five games.  Arike Ogunbowale and Jackie Young have averaged 36 minutes across the last five games, and Marina Mabrey, who played limited minutes in her first two games back after an injury, played 40 minutes against UConn on Sunday.

In that game, Young and Ogunbowale led Irish scorers with 18 and 17 points respectively.  Ogunbowale started strong — 10 points in the first quarter on 4-8 shooting and 2 for 2 from the line.  However, she only managed 7 points the rest of the way and only made 2 of her 10 field goal attempts after the first quarter.  She was 0 for 5 shooting in a scoreless fourth quarter and was 0 for 6 from three for the game.  She did lead the team with 10 rebounds and 5 assists.  Mabrey added 11 points, but only made one of her six three-point attempts.

Ogunbowale had a lamentable fourth quarter, which saw her assessed with a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the game.  Muffet McGraw was clearly upset with the lack of poise her team displayed in the fourth quarter, and this week posted an apology on Twitter:

“I apologize to all the Irish fans and alums for my team’s lack of poise on Sunday.  We set a high bar for what we expect from these young women, and we did not meet those expectations.  As an educator, it is my job to use this as a teachable moment and helps them see that it’s not always about whether or win or lose but it IS ALWAYS about how you play the game.  We will continue to strive to be a team that you can be proud of.”

Ogunbowale also issued a Twitter apology:

“To my Irish family, I let my emotions get the best of me on Sunday, and I apologize for displaying that type of behavior.  Thank you for always supporting us through everything. We love you guys.”

While the game fell apart for the Irish in the fourth quarter, the contest was a battle throughout.  The Huskies held the Irish to 71 points — 20 points below their season average.  After making 17 of 33 field goal attempts (51.5%) in the first half, the Irish only made 10 of 34 (29.4%) in the second half for an overall field goal percentage for the game of 40.3%.  ND made just 1 of 12 three-point attempts (8.9%).  

For the season, UConn shoots 52.3% from the field and 41.1% from three.  ND held the Huskies to 45.3% from the field and 23.5% from three for the game.  

While ND made just 4 of 14 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter including 0 for 4 from three, UConn wasn’t much better — 6-16 from the field and 0-3 from beyond the arc.  The Huskies extended their lead throughout the quarter by making 12 of 14 free throw attempts.  For the game, they connected on 17 of 20 from the stripe (85%) — quite a bit better than their season average of  71.1%.

At the start of the fourth quarter, ND had 18 free throw attempts to just 6 for UConn.  The Irish made just 12 of those 18 and then went 4 for 6 in the 4th quarter to go 16 for 24 (66.7%) for the game.

Notre Dame will have next week off for exams, before returning to action on Sunday, December 16th, against Binghamton followed by two more games before the Christmas break.  A mid-week home game against Western Kentucky followed by a road trip to ranked Marquette on Saturday, the 22nd.

Tomorrow’s game will be carried on EPSN+.  The game starts at 1:00pm eastern.

I will be at the game and will post in-game updates below provided there’s wifi or reasonable cell coverage in the arena.

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