Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

WBB | Wrapping Up the ACC Regular Season

March 5, 2019

After Sunday’s dominating win over Virginia, head coach Muffet McGraw believes her team is hitting its peak at just the right time.  The win over the Cavaliers was the sixth straight convincing win since the Irish lost to Miami on February 7th.  Most importantly, the win improved the Irish conference record to 14-2 and secured the top seed in this coming week’s ACC tournament.

The level of play throughout the season — but especially over the last six games — has elevated Notre Dame to the top of the conference in most statistical categories.

The Irish score more than any other team in the ACC — an average of 88.5 points per game in conference play.  ND averaged 88.4 in the non-conference, and ended up the top-scoring team in the nation across the full season edging Oregon — the Ducks ended the season at 87.3.

The closest to ND in ACC play is Syracuse at 76.1 — over 12 points per game behind the Irish.  Louisville, the regular season co-champion with Notre Dame, averaged 74.4.  North Carolina was fourth at 72.8.  All other ACC teams averaged less than 70 points per game.

Louisville was the hardest team to score against in the ACC at 54.1.  ND was second at 61.0.  Notre Dame’s margin of victory in conference play was 27.5.  Louisville was second at 20.4.  Below the top two, no other ACC team had a margin of victory above six points per game.

ND was the ACC’s best shooting team — 51.7% from the field.  Louisville was second at 45.5%.  For the season, the Irish shot 51.9% from the field — second to Iowa’s 52.2% in the NCAA.  Only two other teams — Oregon and Baylor — topped 50%.  

Louisville edged out ND for field goal defense 35.3% to 35.4%.  Miami was third at 35.8%.

Notre Dame led the conference in three-point shooting percentage with a 39.7% mark.  Second place was Clemson at 38.5% and Louisville was third at 37.0%.   Miami defended the three-point line the best — 26.7%.  Louisville was second at 27.5% and ND third at 27.7%.

ND finished second behind Miami in free throws attempted (356 - 344) and makes (251 - 249).  Only two other conference teams made more than 200 in conference — FSU with 211 and UNC 205.

Notre Dame was the ACC’s top rebounding team with 43.6 per game — two better than Miami at 41.6.  NC State was third with 40.8.

ND led the ACC in assists (22.1 per game) and assist to turnover ratio (1.5).  Louisville was second in both (17.2 assists and 1.4).

ND was tops in blocked shots at 5.6 per game.  Syracuse was second at 4.8.

Individually, Arike Ogunbowale finished second to Louisville’s Asia Durr in points per game.  A 47 point outburst last week helped jump Durr to 20.4 points per game in conference to Ogunbowale’s 19.6.

All five Irish starters are in the top 25 in points per game in the ACC.  Only three other teams had as many as three among the top 25 — Miami, UNC and FSU.  Louisville only had one scorer (Durr) among the ACC’s top 25 scorers.  Jess Shepard was 9th at 14.8, followed by Marina Mabrey (16th - 14.8), Brianna Turner (21st - 14.4) and Jackie Young (23rd - 13.1).

The two highest percentage shooters in ACC play were Turner on top at 67.4% followed by Shepard at 59.7%.  Young (55.3%) and Mabrey (52.0%) were also in the top six with Ogunbowale in the 17th spot at 42.2%. Only eight players in the ACC shot better than 50% from the field — four of them were Irish.  Young and Mabrey were the only guards to do so.

Mabrey topped the conference in three-point percentage at 47.9%.  She also averaged the most made threes per game at 2.9.  Ogunbowale was 16th at 2.1 makes per game.

Two Irish players were in the top ten in free throw shooting.  Shepard was fifth (83.1%) and Ogunbowale was ninth (80.2%).  Only nine players in the ACC topped 80% from the line.

The three Irish guards — Mabrey (5.0), Young (4.9), and Ogunbowale (4.6) — finished third, fourth and fifth in assists per game.  The order was Young (2.6), Ogunbowale (2.2), and Mabrey (2.1) as second, fourth and fifth in the conference in assist to turnover ratio.  

Turner led the ACC in blocks per game at 3.1.  Shepard was third in rebounding at 10.0 per game.

Surprisingly, even with the limited bench options for the Irish, only one ND player — Ogunbowale — was in the top 25 in conference in minutes played.  Her 32.3 minutes per game ranked 23rd.  Three players in the league averaged over 37 minutes a game — Aislinn Konig of NC State (37.4), Regan Magarity of Virginia Tech (37.3) and Haley Gorecki of Duke (37.1).

After the Miami loss, ND elevated its offensive play to a different level.  Through the first ten games, the Irish averaged 83.7 points per game and shot 50.2% from the field, while holding opponents to 59.1 points and 34.6% shooting.  The average victory margin was 24.5.  The Irish averaged 96.5 points over the last six with a 32.5 point margin of victory.  The six games included three teams ranked in this week’s AP top 25 — #9 NC State, #18 Syracuse and #22 Florida State.  The games against the Wolfpack and Orange were on the road.

Over the past six games, the Irish made 53.8% of its field goals -- 57.7% from two and 39.6% from three -- averaged 6.2 made threes per game and shot 78.4% from the line.  The numbers are even better for the five starters — 57.0% from the field (60.4% from two and 44.9% from three) and 79.8% from the line.  The starters averaged 23.8 assists with an A/TO of 2.8.  

Arike Ogunbowale led the Irish scoring in each of the last six games — topping 20 each outing and averaging 24.2 points. She’s made 20 of 38 three-point shots (52.6%) and 23 of 25 from the line (92.0%).  She registered 26 assists (4.3 per game), just 7 turnovers, and an A/TO ratio of 3.7.

Jess Shepard has averaged a double-double — 20.0 points and 10.7 rebounds.  She’s made 58.3% of her field goal attempts and netted 22 of 25 free throws (88.0%).  She’s also averaging 3.8 assists over the six games.

Brianna Turner has made 44 of 55 field goal attempts (80.0%) and has converted 20 of 29 free throw attempts (69.0%) to average 18.0 points per game.  She's averaged 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks.

Over the six games, Jackie Young is second on the team in two-point field goal percentage (60.0%), second in three-point percentage (42.9%), second in rebounds per game (8.5), and second in assist to turnover ratio (4.4).  She leads the team with 7.3 assists per game and steals with 2.5.  She’s averaged 13.3 points per game.

Marina Mabrey leads in assist to turnover ratio at 4.8.  She’s second on the team with 6.3 assists per game.  While her three-point shooting has trailed off to 37.5% over the six games, she has made 18 of 30 shots inside the arc (60.0%).  She’s averaged 12.5 points per game.

Together the starters are responsible for 91.2% of the points, 93.5% of the assists, 93.9% of the steals, 84.6% of the blocks, but just 63.8% of the team’s turnovers over the last six.  The starters are averaging 8.5 turnovers per game.  And, they’ve delivered these numbers while playing 64.2% of the available minutes.  

Over the six-game span, Abby Prohaska has averaged 18.3 minutes per game.  She’s added 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.  She has made 7 of 12 shots (58.3%) and made her first three-pointer of the season in the last game against Virginia.

Mikayla Vaughn and Dani Patterson have averaged 10.0 and 9.2 minutes per game helping to keep both Turner and Shepard’s average minutes below 30 minutes per game.  Together, they added 5 points and 4 rebounds per game.

Starting at 2 pm et Friday, the Irish play the first of potentially three games in three days in the ACC tournament.  If the higher seeds win their games, ND will have an opportunity to avenge their two regular-season ACC losses to UNC on Friday and then Miami on Saturday.  Win those two and it’s a likely rematch with Louisville in the championship game Sunday.  Three wins would most likely send Notre Dame to the Chicago regional as a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.

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