Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

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

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Page 40 of 47 FEBRUARY 2019 41 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL great players and making the extra pass." "It's not all about scoring," top scorer Ogunbowale said. "It's about sharing the ball. … We got shots and made the extra pass, and that's what it's all about." "As an offense, I think we're doing a better job of moving and finding each other," Shepard said. "That's showing in our percentages and the efficiency of our offense." Finding the open players, often for high-percentage shots in the paint, re- sulted in Notre Dame shooting 66.0 percent (35 of 53) in the first three quarters versus Binghamton, 69.8 per- cent (37 of 53) the entire game ver- sus Western Kentucky — which was the third best ever in any contest by Notre Dame — and 59.7 percent at Marquette (37 of 62). Those figures helped the Irish vault all the way to No. 4 nationally in field goal percentage (51.8) and third in points per game (88.9). The starters are shooting at a 54.0-percent clip. "We've really been working on a little more motion, a little more rhythm to the offense," head coach Muffet McGraw said after the Bing- hamton game. "We've definitely been lacking in that area, so it's great to see the way we really shared the ball and just moved." DEFENSE CREATING OFFENSE Overshadowed in the onslaught on offense was limiting Marquette to 63 points. The Golden Eagles entered the contest ranked sixth nationally with an 85.7 scoring average (and had 85 at Notre Dame last year). The Irish continued to rely mainly on a zone defense, with Turner's shot- blocking presence down low provid- ing a missing dimension from last sea- son. Also the coverage of the rangy Young and Mabrey at the top of the zone has been bothersome to foes. Last year's Big East Player of the Year Allazia Blockton, who needed only seven points to become Marquette's all-time leading scorer on the men's or women's side, shot 2 of 14 from the floor (1 of 10 in the first half) en route to finishing with just four points, well below her 18.6 average. The improving defense has trig- gered the fast break, where Notre Dame is most lethal because all five starters can — and have — gone coast to coast on their own with their com- bination of ball-handling skills, speed and finishing near the rim. "That's what they really want to do," McGraw said. "They get inspired when they get a steal or rebound and get a fast break going. We feed off our offense. I'd like us to feed off our de- fense if we could, but they like being able to run and get out, so that helps us rebound a little more." ACC PREVIEW With a 77-3 record during the regu- lar season in its five-year ACC his- tory, plus 14-1 in the league tourna- ment, Notre Dame is the favorite to capture a sixth straight regular-sea- son ACC crown, which was shared with Louisville last year. The Cardinals crushed the Irish 100-67 in the regular season, the beat- ing serving as an impetus toward Notre Dame's national title run. Lou- isville also won the ACC Tournament before falling to Mississippi State in overtime at the Final Four. The grudge match with the No. 3-ranked Cardinals, who Notre Dame had de- feated in 11 straight games prior to last season, will be telecast on ESPN Jan. 10. Other ACC teams also ranked through Jan. 6 were No. 9 North Carolina State, No. 15 Syracuse and No. 24 Miami, with Florida State and Virginia Tech on the fringe. A non- conference road trip to No. 10 Ten- nessee Jan. 24 likewise promises a formidable challenge. ✦ Three-Point Play 1. Balance Of Power: All five Irish starters were averaging double-figure scoring entering the Jan. 3 ACC opener versus Pitt. Senior guard Arike Ogunbowale led the way at 23.1 points per game, and her 45 assists were also second on the team. Her ability to draw defenders toward her when she is running the fast break has resulted in a lot of open layups by teammates off passes from Ogunbowale. She also matched her career high of 32 points in her homecoming at Marquette while converting 13 of 21 shots from the floor. Junior guard Jackie Young averaged 15.6 points, led the 12-1 team in assists (66) and was still hauling in 6.6 rebounds per contest, while senior forward Jessica Shepard was averaging nearly a double- double with 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Marina Mabrey had a 14.0 scoring average after missing the first five games with an injury, while fifth-year senior Brianna Turner is at 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 2. Playing The Percentages: Over a four-game span, Shepard tied the school record set by Carey Poor in 1994 by converting 17 consecutive field goal attempts, with the streak coming to an end on her third shot at Marquette Dec. 22. The men's record is 20 by John Shumate during the 1973 NIT in victories versus Louisville and North Carolina. 3. Fab Five: With six more points, beginning with the Pitt game Jan. 3, Young would become the 40th player in the program's 42-year history to reach 1,000 career points (although Shepard's career began at Nebraska). It would also mark the first time for either the Irish women or men that five 1,000-point scorers in college at the time would be on the floor together. — Lou Somogyi 2018-19 NOTRE DAME WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Oct. 30 Lewis University! W, 107-65 Nov. 9 Harvard W, 103-58 Nov. 12 Penn W, 75-55 Nov. 17 at DePaul W, 101-77 Nov. 22 vs. Gonzaga# W, 81-65 Nov. 23 vs. Drake# W, 82-64 Nov. 24 vs. Oregon State# W, 91-81 Nov. 29 Iowa% W, 105-71 Dec. 2 Connecticut^ L, 89-71 Dec. 8 at Toledo W, 72-56 Dec. 16 Binghamton W, 103-53 Dec. 19 Western Kentucky W, 94-53 Dec. 22 at Marquette W, 87-63 Dec. 30 Lehigh W, 95-68 Jan. 3 Pittsburgh (ACCN) 7 p.m. Jan. 6 at Georgia Tech (RSN) 3 p.m. Jan. 10 Louisville (ESPN) 7 p.m. Jan. 13 Wake Forest (ACCN) 1 p.m. Jan. 16 at Virginia Tech (ACCN) 7 p.m. Jan. 20 Boston College (ACCN) 1 p.m. Jan. 24 at Tennessee (ESPN/2) 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at North Carolina (ACCN) 2 p.m. Jan. 31 at Clemson (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 3 Georgia Tech (RSN) 12 p.m. Feb. 7 at Miami (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 10 Florida State (ESPN) 12 p.m. Feb. 13 at Boston College (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at NC State (ESPN2) 7 p.m. Feb. 21 Duke (ACCN) 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at Syracuse (ESPN2) 6 p.m. Mar. 3 Virginia (RSN) 12:30 p.m. Mar. 6-9 ACC Tournament TBA ! Exhibition; # Vancouver Showcase; % ACC-Big Ten Challenge; ^ Jimmy V Classic

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