Feb. 25, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame freshman scoring machine Arike Ogunbowale only has one setting when she comes off the bench for the No. 2 Fighting Irish — attack mode.
That was the case Thursday night when Ogunbowale scored 16 points in 22 minutes to help Notre Dame ease by Clemson 71-52 for its 20th straight win and a share of the ACC regular-season title.
”Attacking mode, that’s what I like to do, so that’s what I focus on,” Ogunbowale said.
Averaging just a shade under 12 points per game, Ogunbowale’s instant offense earned high praise from head coach Muffet McGraw.
”I think she’s the best sixth-man in the game,” McGraw said. ”She’s doing so many things that are exciting to watch. It’s a real luxury to have somebody that talented coming off the bench. We get better when she comes in the game.”
Brianna Turner added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Irish (27-1 overall), who improved to 15-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and wrapped up the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC tournament.
Clemson (4-24, 0-15) has lost 30 straight ACC games dating to last season. Aliyah Collier tied a career high with 18 points and added nine rebounds to lead the Tigers.
Michaela Mabrey added 11 points for Notre Dame, which is now 53-1 in ACC play, including the postseason, since joining the league in 2013.
Clemson struggled to open the second half, hitting just one of its first 13 shots, leading to a 16-2 Irish run that pushed their lead to 28 points with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
”Notre Dame woke up,” said Clemson coach Audra Smith. ”We just came out sluggish and slow.”
Turner scored 12 points in the first half as Notre Dame lobbed it into the paint early and often.
”The lobs were there a lot,” Turner said.
”I thought we could have gotten (Turner) the ball more,” McGraw added.
When the Irish weren’t turning the ball over (11 turnovers in the first half), they hardly missed, shooting 65 percent from the field and a perfect 11 for 11 from the free-throw line.
Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer to open the second quarter capped a 9-0 Notre Dame run that got the lead into double digits, and the Irish took a 15-point advantage into halftime.
”We needed that scoring punch really badly today,” McGraw said.
THEY WANT IT ALL
With Louisville’s win over Miami on Thursday, the Irish looked ahead to Saturday’s regular season finale with Boston College and the chance to claim the ACC title outright.
When asked what clinching a share of the crown Thursday night meant to the team, McGraw smiled and said, ”Not interested in sharing.”
Clemson: The Tigers have not won an ACC game since their first conference game last season, a 63-54 victory over Virginia Tech on Jan. 2, 2015. … Junior Paige Mosley is the only upperclassman on the Clemson roster. … The Tigers brought just eight players to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame: Starting forward Kathryn Westbeld sat out with an ankle injury suffered late in Notre Dame’s 73-66 win at No. 12 Florida State on Sunday. … Notre Dame has won 20 straight games for a fifth consecutive season.
Clemson hosts North Carolina State on Sunday.
Notre Dame hosts Boston College on Saturday.