Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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Page 52 of 63 APRIL 2017 53 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL — despite her 5-8 height — is second on the team in rebounds per game (5.2). Sophomores Arike Ogunbowale (15.1 points per game) and Marina Mabrey (14.2 points per game) have combined for 121 three-pointers at an impressive 45-percent clip, but their improved defense has especially up- graded the overall team. Westbeld (8.6 points and 5.1 re- bounds per game) has become the glue figure in the attack, especially with her high post passing that has upgraded the flow of the offense. Freshmen Jackie Young (7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game) and Erin Boley (6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game) are both began getting comfortable with their roles. Young, a guard, has become an ag- gressive rebounder to complement her scoring. Boley at forward fin- ished the ACC Tournament convert- ing 6 of 8 from the field en route to 14 points in the title game versus Duke. The Irish closed the regular season with an impressive 79-61 win versus Florida State, which finished No. 10 in the Associated Press poll. Then in the ACC Tournament Notre Dame roared past Virginia (76-59), No. 13 Louisville (84-73) and No. 9 Duke (84-61), the second seed in Bridgeport Region. After the Blue Devils closed within 43-41, the Irish closed with a jaw-dropping 41-20 run. "We're really playing with a lot of confidence," McGraw said. "It comes from the top — Lindsay Allen is playing really great basketball. But you look at our sophomores, Arike and Marina are really coming along. "We're been in some real battles, and I think it's really helped us. The two losses that we had, especially the Tennessee game, made us better. "I thought that stretch in the Duke game was about the best we've played ever. … I'm really pleased with where we are. I think we're peaking at the right time." TURNING POINT A pivotal point of the season came in the back-to-back road games at Clem- son (Feb. 16) and Syracuse (Feb. 19), when the Irish dodged upset bids. The Clemson Tigers had lost 41 straight league games and scored only 27 points versus Florida State Jan. 15 — yet trailed only 82-80 versus Notre Dame with 11.5 seconds left before two free throws by Mabrey iced the win. "We have no pride in our defense whatsoever," an angered McGraw said afterwards. "It's a shame, be- cause we could be really good, but we just don't care about defense." Moments later she softened her stance by adding, "As soon as we get healthy, we'll be fine." Three days later a fired-up Syra- cuse team that was playing in front of an Orange women's school-record 11,021 at the Carrier Dome came out blazing during a 30-point first quarter in which they built a 13-point lead. The Irish calmly settled in against last year 's national runner-up, and Turner tallied a career-high 31 points while converting 13 of 14 field goal attempts, executing well-timed cuts to the basket off excellent passing. Syracuse led 63-54 late in the third quarter before the Irish went on a game-deciding 15-0 run to eke out the 85-80 win in an outing that had a Final Four atmosphere (and ended Syra- cuse's 18-game home winning streak). "This was a game I was really wor- ried about," McGraw said. "There was a lot of pressure on us." It was ideal to prepare for March — and maybe April again. ✦ 2016-17 NOTRE DAME WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 3 Roberts Wesleyan# W, 129-50 Nov. 11 Central Michigan! W, 107-47 Nov. 14 Fordham! W, 67-36 Nov. 17 Green Bay! W, 71-67 Nov. 20 Washington! W, 71-60 Nov. 22 vs. Louisiana Lafayette& W, 91-51 Nov. 26 TCU W, 92-59 Nov. 30 at Iowa@ W, 73-58 Dec. 4 Valparaiso W, 114-54 Dec. 7 Connecticut L, 61-72 Dec. 10 at DePaul W, 75-61 Dec. 18 at Toledo W, 85-68 Dec. 20 at Michigan State W, 79-61 Dec. 27 at Chattanooga W, 79-58 Dec. 29 at North Carolina State* L, 70-62 Jan. 2 at Georgia Tech* W, 55-38 Jan. 5 Wake Forest* W, 92-72 Jan. 7 at Miami* W, 67-55 Jan. 12 Pittsburgh W, 86-54 Jan. 16 at Tennessee L, 71-69 Jan. 19 at Boston College W, 80-69 Jan. 22 at North Carolina W, 77-55 Jan. 26 Duke W, 62-58 Jan. 29 Virginia W, 82-74 Feb. 2 at Virginia Tech W, 76-59 Feb. 6 Louisville W, 85-66 Feb. 12 Georgia Tech W, 90-69 Feb. 16 at Clemson W, 84-80 Feb. 19 at Syracuse W, 85-80 Feb. 23 Boston College W, 82-45 Feb. 26 Florida State W, 79-61 March 3 vs. Virginia^ W, 76-59 March 4 vs. Louisville^ W, 84-73 March 5 vs. Duke^ W, 84-61 March 17 Robert Morris $ (ESPN2) 7:30 p.m. # Exhibition; ! Preseason WNIT; & at the Campbell Center in Houston; @ ACC-Big Ten Challenge; * ACC game; ^ ACC Tournament at HTC Center in Conway, S.C.; $ NCAA Tourna- ment first round at Purcell Pavilion Three-Point Play 1. UConn Of The ACC — The Connecticut dynasty and the 107 straight wins it has posted have sadly overshadowed the dominance Notre Dame also has enjoyed with a remarkable 74-2 record (62-2 regular season, 12-0 in tournament) in the ACC — after also winning the Big East outright versus UConn in 2013. To register 13 straight wins against Duke, 11 in a row versus Louisville (national runner-up in 2009 and 2013) and 18 consecutive victories against Syracuse (last year's national runner-up) is something that can be easily taken for granted and not fully appreciated until years down the line — sort of like defeating USC in football 11 straight years from 1983-93. These are "the good ol' days." 2. The Turner Effect — In the ACC championship game, Duke shot only 36.4 percent from the field (20 of 55), and it missed a number of good looks inside. What sometimes gets undervalued is The Turner Effect that does not show individually on the stat sheet. Two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year Brianna Turner's presence can often subconsciously lead to hurried or worried shots because of her range and skills to cover so much ground, especially in the zone. Turner was credited with three blocked shots against the Blue Devils, but it's the other errant ones she forces that are just as valuable, if not more so. There is not a more athletic big in the country that can cover so much ground quicker than Turner. 3. Better Balance, But … — UConn's dominance in the women's game has mirrored UCLA's seven straight national titles under John Wooden for the men in 1967-73 (and 10 of 12). "It's an amazing accomplishment, but it turns our entire game into one team, and that's the only team anyone talks about," McGraw said of the Huskies' winning streak. "It hurts our game in terms of marketing other games. … Outside of the first spot, there is a parity." There is only one way to solve the problem. — Lou Somogyi

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