Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

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

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40 FEBRUARY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI A rare event in college basket- ball annals occurred during No. 2-ranked Notre Dame's impressive 87-63 victory at No. 19 Marquette Dec. 22. On the opening tap, all five of Mar- quette's senior starters that barely lost at national champ Notre Dame last year in overtime had tallied more than 1,000 points in their career. Meanwhile four of Notre Dame's five starters had already reached the 1,500-point mark (and senior guard Arike Ogunbowale had eclipsed 2,000 earlier in the month) — while junior guard Jackie Young was only 22 points away from 1,000 herself. Once Young joins the club, Notre Dame and Marquette will be the only two teams in the country to have five 1,000-point scorers apiece on current college basketball rosters. With so much firepower, there could be a natural inclination for each player to hunt shots. For Notre Dame, though, the sobering 89-71 loss at home to new No. 1 Con- necticut Dec. 2 exposed the need to recommit to two areas: better ball movement on offense with sharper cuts and better timing on passes, and a greater focus on defense. During a dominant three-game stretch over seven days from Dec. 16-22 in which the Fighting Irish crushed Binghamton (103-53), West- ern Kentucky (94-53) and then the reigning Big East champion Mar- quette, Notre Dame posted season- high totals in assists with 27, 25 and 26, respectively. The motion offense found a much better flow for at least three reasons. One, senior guard Marina Mabrey's improving stamina and presence af- ter missing most of the first month with a quadriceps injury was helping spread the floor better with her three- point shooting skills and experience at running the offense. Second, Notre Dame wasn't at- tempting to force feed the ball inside to two-time All-American Brianna Turner, who was shelved last season while recovering from ACL surgery. Last year the team had to learn how to play without Turner, and for the first two months this season it had to reacclimate on how to play with her. Part of the process was letting the game flow to her. Against Bingham- ton and Western Kentucky, respec- tively, Turner attempted only seven and four shots from the field (con- verting nine), while her defensive presence as a shot blocker still helped her impact the outcome. Then against Marquette, with so many options to cover for the Golden Eagles, Turner asserted herself on offense with 16 first-half points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. She finished with 20 points, while senior Jessica Shepard crushed the boards with a Notre Dame career-high 18 rebounds, seven of them on offense, to go with 15 points. T h e c h o o s e - y o u r- p o i s o n e l e - ment has resurfaced because of the ball movement and unselfish play. Mabrey was the one on the roll ver- sus Western Kentucky while convert- ing 7 of 9 field goals, four of them from three-point range. Yet when she was off at Marquette (1 of 7), the in- side game took up the slack. Versus Binghamton and Western Kentucky, Mabrey also dished out 17 assists while committing zero turn- overs. "We were just trying to do more on the court than just score ourselves. We wanted to get other people in- volved, just share the ball better," Mabrey said after the rout of Bing- hamton. "We talked about having Recommitment Following the loss to Connecticut, the No. 2 Irish began to jell by sharing the wealth and playing better defense Senior guard Marina Mabrey, who has been recovering from a quadriceps injury, dished out 17 assists with zero turnovers in mid-December wins over Binghamton and Western Kentucky. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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