Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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50 NOV. 26, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI H ead coach Muffet McGraw stared at her questioner with a curious, even alarmed, look for several seconds following No. 1 Notre Dame's 75-55 victory ver- sus Penn on Nov. 12 to improve to 2-0. The inquiry was about "the hang- over effect" from pre-game celebrat- ing. That's because shortly before the tip-off, the 2018 national title banner was unfurled in the Purcell Pavilion rafters, and then the Fighting Irish had to grind their way to a win over the Quakers, buoyed by a 20-2 run at the end of the first half and the start of the second. "I don't think that's it all … I thought you were asking if we were out drink- ing last night," McGraw said with a chuckle, explaining why she was origi- nally confused about the question. "I know I wasn't. Maybe tonight." Such is the world of a coach and team projected to win another na- tional title. Perfection is expected routinely, and when it's not delivered there is a sense of unfulfillment. Easily forgotten was how Penn's methodical play has given Notre Dame fits. Last year the Irish won 66-54 at Penn. It was their lowest output of the year — until defeating Mississippi State 61-58 to win the na- tional title with a 35-3 record. "We really miss Marina [Mabrey], that's a big part of it," McGraw said of her senior guard who might be sidelined most, if not all, of Novem- ber with a left quadriceps injury suf- fered during the preseason. "We get out of rhythm. We had a really nice offensive execution once early, and then we never really did it again. "We just need the discipline of be- ing able to continue to do that." The absence of Mabrey was conspic- uous against the two-three zone be- cause Penn could pack it inside more. The Irish were 3 of 12 from beyond the arc and 5 of 19 the first two games minus the sharp-shooting Mabrey. The veteran quartet of senior guard Arike Ogunbowale (21 points), se- nior forwards Jessica Shepard (17) and Brianna Turner (16), plus junior guard Jackie Young (12), combined for 66 points. Playing much of last season with a broken nose, Young broke it again at a different spot during the exhibition game versus Lewis Oct. 30. Young wore her face mask to protect her broken nose the entire game after discarding it in the second half in the opener versus Harvard Nov. 9. Meanwhile, Shepard runs the floor with much more fluidity and has trimmed down significantly. It is doubtful you will find any team with two bigs who run the floor as well and are as proficient with their scoring like the duo of Shepard and Turner. Freshman Abby Prohaska pro- vided blue-collar hustle and defen- sive intensity off the bench. She will get into foul trouble often this year because of her aggressiveness (four fouls in 19:38 versus Penn), but she provided a lift in the first half. "She brings us so much energy," McGraw said. "She was in passing lanes, she was helping, she was dou- bling, she did everything we talked about in practice. "She's going to add a lot to our de- fense. She took a charge and tried to take a couple more. I'm really happy with her." ✦ Bench Play Aids Irish Victory At No. 15 DePaul In the first major road test of the year, a 101-77 victory at No. 15 DePaul Nov. 17, head coach Muffet McGraw was especially gratified with Notre Dame's bench play. While the usual suspects such as junior guard Jackie Young (28 points and 12 rebounds), senior guard Arike Ogunbowale (24 points) and senior forward Jessica Shepard (15 points and 16 rebounds) delivered, sophomore forward Danielle Patterson and freshman guard Abby Prohaska provided huge sparks on both ends. Patterson finished with career highs in points (14) and blocked shots (three) in 22 minutes, in part because of early foul trouble on fifth-year senior forward Brianna Turner. Prohaska had four assists and four steals, both team highs. After trailing 29-22 at the end of the first quarter while committing 10 turnovers, the Irish took a 54-47 halftime lead on 64.5-percent shooting from the field (20 of 31). Notre Dame finished 37 of 62 from the floor (59.7 percent) and 25 of 30 from the foul line, and also owned a commanding 48-23 advantage on the glass. — Lou Somogyi BANNER NIGHT The Irish grind out a 20-point win over Penn after celebrating last season's success The 2018 national championship banner was hung in Purcell Pavilion prior to Notre Dame' 75‑55 win over Penn Nov. 12. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL BENNETT/FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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