Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Women Roll In ACC Opener

January 3, 2019

Notre Dame opened ACC play with a dominant performance in 100-44 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night in South Bend.

The Irish used hot shooting and stifling defense to jump out to a 32-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame’s guards led the way scoring 24 in the quarter as the Irish shot 12 of 20 (60%) with assists on nine baskets. Arike Ogunbowale scored nine, Marina Mabrey added eight and Jackie Young seven in the first half. Young hit the 1,000-point mark for her career in the first quarter.

The Irish extended the lead to 60-14 at the half, limiting Pitt to just four points in the second quarter as the Panthers could only make 2 of 17 attempts from the field (11.8%).

The Irish cruised in the second half, playing with one starter and four reserves for most of the third quarter, and with all reserves and walk-ons in the fourth. The final 56-point victory margin was Notre Dame’s largest of the year.

Coach Muffet McGraw was pleased with her team’s overall effort.

“I’m so thrilled with tonight,” she said. “That’s the best game we’ve played all year. Great defense, and we really moved the ball on offense. Really just great aggressive play. We wanted to set the tone with our defense and I think we were able to do that.”

All the stat lines favored the Irish. ND shot 52.3% for the game versus 26.6% for Pitt. The Irish out-rebounded the Panthers 49 to 36. 12 Irish steals helped turn Pitt over 24 times, while the Irish had only 13 turnovers. The Irish had 24 assists on the night. 

Pitt is led by first year head coach, Lance White, who joined the Panthers after serving as an assistant coach at Florida State. He admitted Notre Dame was a difficult match up to open conference play.

“First-time head coach, first ACC game, you get to play Notre Dame, defending national champions, and one of the best teams in the country and obviously we’re not ready for that yet,” he said. “They have so many different weapons. They can pass the basketball so well, and they have a great inside-out game. They’re the most well-balanced team in the country, and we couldn’t find anything we could do to attack them.”

Mabrey led all scorers with 20 points. She made 4 of 9 three-point shots, had seven assists, one turnover, three steals and two blocks in just 23 minutes of playing time. Ogunbowale only played 19 minutes, but she added 18 points, three assists, three steals and three rebounds. She went 7 for 9 from the field including 2 for 3 from three. Young played 20 minutes and scored 16 on 6 for 9 from the field and added six rebounds, two assists and steal.

On the night that Young reached the 1,000 career point milestone, McGraw reflected on the junior guard joining the other four starters in the 1,000 point club.

“It was great for her,” McGraw said. “She has done so many great things for us. She’s so unselfish. She doesn’t care how many points she scores. I still think she may be the best player ever to come out of here.” 

Irish reserves were able to log major minutes — Jordan Nixon, Abby Prohaska and Dani Patterson all played over 20 minutes. Nixon scored 9 points (1-2 from two, 1-2 from three and 4-4 from the line). She also had 4 assists, 2 steals and just one turnover. Dani Patterson added 6 points.

ND’s bench scored 31 points and shot 10 of 20 from the field and 9 of 10 from the line.

Getting off to a good start to start ACC play was important to the team and McGraw:

“We’ve got a long way to go, so it’s great to get out in the first game and set a tone for the ACC. We’re going to take it one game at a time, but it’s important for us to come and play like that every game.”

Notre Dame travels to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon. They’ll return home to play unbeaten and third-ranked Louisville next Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion

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