Dec. 28, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) — Facing the best rebounding team in the country, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw decided to trade that part of the game for offense.
The strategy just barely paid off Monday night as the third-ranked Irish saw a 13-point second-half lead evaporate, but held off No. 10 Oregon State 62-61.
Madison Cable scored 15 points and Lindsay Allen made two free throws with 6 seconds left for the Irish, who went almost exclusively with a four-guard rotation in the second half. As a result, they were outrebounded 46-33.
”I’d rather get some more points down the other end and get outrebounded,” said McGraw, who collected her 798th career victory. ”I would rather go ahead and put in the people I want on offense if we’re not going to rebound.”
Freshman Marina Mabrey added 13 points for the Irish (11-1). Gabriella Hanson’s 18 points led Oregon State (9-2).
Notre Dame took a one-point lead on Brianna Turner’s free throw with 1:51 to play and the Irish twice had a chance to extend that advantage, but a steal by Hanson gave the Beavers the ball back with 32 seconds left.
Oregon State failed to get a shot to the rim on the other end and turned the ball back over to Notre Dame with 7 seconds left on a shot clock violation. Mabrey came up with a key block of Hanson in the waning seconds.
”We got some stops down the stretch when we really needed to,” McGraw said.
The Beavers were looking to get Hanson to the rim for a go-ahead shot, but couldn’t get by the Irish defense.
”We were trying to put (Hanson) in a position to make a play,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. ”They made a good play on her and challenged her shot.”
Jamie Weisner finished with 15 points for the Beavers, and center Ruth Hamblin added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Turner, who returned to Notre Dame’s starting lineup at Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 21 after missing six games with a shoulder injury, had eight points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Notre Dame used a 21-3 run between the second and third quarters and led by 13 just under 4 minutes into the third quarter, following Michaela Mabrey’s second 3-pointer of the half.
Oregon State answered with a 13-2 run to get back within two points after consecutive 3s by Hanson with 1:09 left in the third.
”We knew we were going to take a big punch from this team coming out of halftime,” Rueck said. ”At that point (after the run), we felt like we had taken control of the game.”
A 14-3 burst in the fourth quarter put the Beavers ahead by three with 4:11 left.
”They like to slow the game down and we like to run,” McGraw said. ”It was a battle of tempo and they won.
”I thought we started the game out very lethargic.”
Notre Dame missed its first nine shots and McGraw had four of her starters on the bench in the first 6 minutes. Despite the slow start, the Irish only trailed by five points late in the second quarter.
They finished the half with a 9-0 run, capped by Hannah Huffman’s buzzer-beating jumper to lead 30-26.
For the second straight game, Oregon State was missing junior point guard and three-year starter Sydney Wiese, who is out indefinitely after injuring her right (non-shooting) hand in a Dec. 19 loss at Tennessee.
Hanson played the point along with starter Katie McWilliams and responded with a big game.
”Phenomenal,” Rueck said of Hanson’s play. ”I thought her energy fueled our comeback.”
Oregon State: The Beavers, who lead the nation in defensive rebounding (35 per game), grabbed 13 offensive boards to Notre Dame’s six.
Notre Dame: The Irish improved to 4-1 against currently ranked teams this season.
Oregon State is at Southern Cal on Jan. 2.
Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech on Dec. 30.