Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

WBB | Tough Saturday Test for the Irish

December 22, 2018

Notre Dame, currently 10-1 on the season, faces a challenging road opponent Saturday afternoon at Marquette.  The Golden Eagles forced the Irish into overtime a year ago at Purcell, and Marquette has all five starters — all seniors — back from that team.

Last year, Marquette jumped out to an 8 point lead at the end of the first quarter.  The Irish rallied to take a one-point lead at the half and stretched it to 7 after three quarters, before Marquette came back to take a three-point lead with just 1:49 seconds remaining.  Kat Westbeld scored the final three points in the last 45 seconds to force the overtime.  Notre Dame only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter - 3 of 11 from the field and 3-6 from the line.  The Irish scored the first six points in the overtime and outscored the Golden Eagles 18-12 in the five minute OT.

Marquette is 9-2 so far this season with losses at Mississippi State by 5 and at Miami (FL) by 8.  The Golden Eagles are 7-0 at home.  In their last game, they crushed Binghamton 93 to 40 at home one day after ND beat the Bearcats 103-53.

Marquette is a high-scoring team that averages 85.7 points per game. They shoot 47.6% from the field and 38.4% from beyond the arc.  They average 9.5 three-point baskets a game. While no starter is taller than 6’, they pressure the ball on defense and force 20.9 turnovers a game.  They average 11.2 steals per contest.

Marquette is led in scoring by Allazia Blockton, who averages 18.6 points (she scored 20 in last year’s game).  The 6’ guard became Marquette’s all-time leading scorer earlier this month.  Blockton makes 51.2% of her field goal attempts and 41.2% of her three-point shots.

Natisha Hiedeman, a 5’8” guard, is averaging 14.7 points per game this season (she scored 12 against the Irish last season).  She averages 5.7 rebounds and leads the team in assists with 5.8 per game. Her assist to turnover ratio is a solid 3.6.

Danielle King, a 5.5” guard, also scored 12 in last year’s contest.  She currently averages 10.6 points and 3.8 assists per game (2.6 A/TO).  

Ericka Davenport averages10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  The 5’11” forward is converting 66.7% of her field goal attempts.  She scored 19 in last year’s game.

The last starter, Amani Wilborn, averages 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.  The 5.9” guard scored 10 against ND last year.

The top two reserves in minutes per game are both guards — junior Isabelle Spingola and sophomore Selena Lott.   Spingola averages 8.8 points per game and is shooting 50% from three.  Lott only averages 3.9 points per game but plays an average of 19.5 minutes per contest.

The game will be played at the Al McGuire center on campus, which seats 3,700.  The game is a sell-out and will be televised on FS1.  The game starts at 12:30 central / 1:30 eastern.

Irish Notes: Notre Dame is coming off its best performance on both sides of the ball — the 94-53 thrashing of Western Kentucky.  The Irish started hot and got hotter in the first half.  After scoring 23 points while 66.7% from the field in the first quarter, ND only missed one of their 14 field goal attempts in the second quarter (92.9%) in scoring 30 points.  Meanwhile, the ND defense limited the Hilltoppers to just 15 points in the first half.

After missing the first five games of the season, Marina Mabrey appears to be back in game shape. In her first three games after returning from a leg injury, she averaged 13 points and 3 assists per game.  She only made 30.4% of her field goal attempts and just 26.3% of her three-point shots.  

Over the last three games, Mabrey is shooting 66.7% from the field and 64.3% from beyond the arc.  She’s scored 21 and 20 points in the last two games and her season average is up to 15 points per game.  She’s averaging 5 assists over the last three games with an assist to turnover ratio of 4.7.  Combined with Jackie Young, Marina gives the Irish a disruptive presence at the top of the zone defense.

Arike Ogunbowale continues to lead Notre Dame in scoring — 22.3 points per game.  After taking at least 18 shots in each of the first eight games, she’s averaging 12 field goal attempts per game over the last three — and her scoring is down to 17 points per game over the last three.  Being more selective has improved her field goal percentage from 43.7% over the first eight games to 58.3% over the last three.  Saturday’s game is a homecoming for Arike.

Jess Shepard is shooting lights out over the last three games — 20-25 (80%).  Her season field goal percentage is now 62.5%.

Brianna Turner only averages 8.9 field goal attempts per game — but she’s making 57.1% of her attempts.  She’s also averaging 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Jackie Young continues to be highly efficient on offense and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 17.0 points (55.0% from the field and 80.3% from the line), 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Her assist to turnover ratio is 2.4. 

For the season, Notre Dame is averaging 88.9 points per game.  The Irish are shooting 51.1% from the field — higher than any ND team over the last eight seasons. The Irish never score a high number of threes per game and currently are making just 3.8 per game this season.  However, that number should start to move up with Mabrey back in the line-up.  ND was 8 for 12 from deep in Wednesday’s game vs Western Kentucky.  

Through 11 games, ND has made 51 more free throws than all opponents combined have attempted.

In-game updates: Provided there is sufficient a cell phone signal or wifi available in the Al McGuire Arena, I will be posting updates below during the game. 

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