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Notre Dame Basketball

WBB | Notre Dame Closes Out Regular Season With 103-66 Thumping of Virginia

March 3, 2019
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Notre Dame secured the top seed in this week’s ACC tournament with a no doubt win over Virginia.  The win also guaranteed the Irish a share of the regular season conference title with Louisville for the second straight year.  Notre Dame has now won or shared six straight ACC regular-season titles.  Before joining the ACC, the Irish also won the Big East regular season title each of their last two seasons in that conference.

Senior walk-on Maureen Butler earned a start in her final regular season home game in place of Jackie Young, who entered the game three minutes into the first quarter.  She scored 10 first quarter points to lead the Irish to a 29 to 16 lead after the first ten minutes.  Before she came out of the game with 6 and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, she registered her second triple-double of the season — 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.   

“I couldn't imagine a better finish for these seniors on their last game at home of the regular season,” noted Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. “That was really a phenomenal accomplishment, what they've done since they've been here. But, Jackie wanted to steal the thunder today. She came up with a triple-double, just a great game off the bench, and willingly gave her spot to Butler so she could start, and then came in and had the best game of her season.”

Young is only the second Notre Dame player to record two triple-doubles in her career — Skylar Diggins-Smith was the other.  Young is the first to achieve this feat in a single season. Young was a highly efficient 9-13 from the field including 3-4 from three.  She had missed all of her six three-point attempts in ACC play before today’s game.

Arike Ogunbowale led all scorers with 24 points and hit a career-high six three-pointers (on eight shots).  As a team, the Irish hit 13 of 27 three-pointers — both season highs for makes and attempts.  The Irish hit 8 three-pointers in four other games this season and their most attempts was 19 earlier in the season against Iowa.

Marina Mabrey, who is chasing Alicia Ratay for most three-pointers in an ND career sank 3 of 8 and now trails Ratay by just 4.  Mabrey scored 12 points and added eight assists and 6 rebounds.

Both Brianna Turner and Jess Shepard had strong games.  Turner scored 21 making 8 of 9 shots and 5 of 6 free throws to total 21 points.  She also had 3 blocks, 3 assists, and 3 steals to go with 6 rebounds.  Shepard tallied 19 points, making 7 of 11 field goal attempts and went 5 for 5 from the line.  She had 8 rebounds and started the Irish scoring four seconds into the game.  She took the opening tip from Turner and dribbled behind her back to get free for a layup.

Shepard has now connected on 54 of 65 free throw attempts in ACC play (83.1%), which raises her season average to 71.2%.  Her best percentage from the line her first three years was last season’s 56.5%.

Virginia scored 33 points each half to top their season average of 57.8 points per game.  The Cavaliers grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in the first half helping them register 15 of their 19 second chance points for the game.  They scored 9 points against Irish reserves in the last 4:37 of the game.  The Cavaliers’ leading scorer for the season, Jocelyn Willoughby, scored 19 points to lead UVA, but she was just 6 for 20 from the field.  Lisa Jablonowski added 17.

The Irish shot 55.1% from the field and made 14 of 15 free throws (93.3%) — the highest percentage from the line this season.  ND out-rebounded Virginia 47 to 37 and limited the Cavaliers to 5 offensive rebounds in the second half.  The Irish were 37 for 59 from the field (62.7%) when all the starters exited with 4:36 to go in the game.  The reserves only made 1 of ND’s last 10 attempts from the field.

Since losing at Miami on February 7, the Irish have dominated six straight conference opponents — including three ranked teams — by an average score of 96.5 to 64.0 — a 32.5 point margin of victory.  This run has increased the Irish average points per game to 88.4 for the season and 88.5 in the ACC.  Both marks lead the ACC by a wide margin.  

“We've really been competing in practices, and just really focusing on our defense,” said Young after the game. “And whenever we play defense, I think we're the best team in the country, and we're able to go in transition. And, when we're in transition, that's honestly our best game.”

The win moves the Irish record to 27-3 on the season and 14-2 in the ACC.  Virginia drops to 5-11 in conference and 11-18 overall.

The Irish will open ACC tournament play Friday afternoon at 2 pm eastern against the winner of the eight vs. nine seed game on Thursday.  North Carolina, an upset winner over the Irish earlier this season, lost to Duke on Sunday to drop to 8-8 in the ACC.  They’ll play Georgia Tech on Thursday in the eight-nine game.

NC State came from behind in the second half to beat Miami and earn the three seed and will play on Louisville’s side of the bracket.  If seeding holds, the Irish will have to beat the two teams that upset the Irish on the road earlier this season to get the final game on Sunday — UNC on Friday and Miami in the semi-finals Saturday.

As noted above, the Irish are playing at another level since their last loss at Miami.  They won’t be so easy to take down a second time.

“We just have so many weapons on offense and we're just starting to peak now,” said McGraw. “I feel like we're really in a great place heading into the tournament as the number one seed. Exactly where we want to be.”

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Final Box Score
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Final Notre Dame Stats

 

 
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