March 24, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In every loss there is an opportunity. The top-seeded Notre Dame women’s basketball team lost All-American Brianna Turner for the season to a knee injury in its NCAA second round win over Purdue. While the Irish would obviously rather have the rangy Texan post player in the lineup, her loss creates a bevy of shots for someone to step up and take.
Friday night in the Sweet 16, Arike Ogunbowale launched 22 shots, by four the most by any Irish player this year. Ogunbowale sank 11 of those 22 shots for a career-high 32 points to push Notre Dame (33-3) past No. 5-seed Ohio State, 99-76, at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena and on to the Elite Eight. It is Notre Dame’s sixth Elite Eight in the last seven years.
Ogunbowale’s 32 points tie for the third-best in NCAA Championship play by Notre Dame, trailing just the 36 by Beth Morgan (Cunningham) in the famed 1997 Sweet 16 upset of Alabama and the 35 (albeit in an overtime game) by Charel Allen against Oklahoma in the 2008 second round.
Notre Dame shot well all over the floor on Friday night, connecting on 52.3% (34-for-65) from the floor, 50.0% from three (12-for-24) and 95.0% from the foul line (19-for-20). The charity stripe success ties for the second-best night in school history with at least 20 attempts.
The 99 points scored tonight by Notre Dame are the school’s most ever in an NCAA tournament game and its younger players helped the team get there. Freshman Erin Boley scored 14 points, one off of her career high, while fellow freshman Jackie Young added 13 more. Sophomore Marina Mabrey scored 16 as freshmen or sophomores combined to score 73 points in the contest.
“I’m just so proud of this team right now, especially our freshmen and sophomores,” Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw said. “Our young players stepped up in a big game. I thought Erin played her best game of the season. Arike with a career high in a huge game without Bri. It was a struggle for us this week trying to overcome that. Just so proud of the resilience of this team.”
Junior Kathryn Westbeld had her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Lindsay Allen scored 16 points, her second-highest sum of the year, with 10 assists and a pair of steals.
Allen’s Latest Record News
Lindsay Allen continued to leave her mark on the Notre Dame, ACC and NCAA record books. She matched her NCAA tournament high with 10 assists on the night.
The 10th and final assist, setting up an Arike Ogunbowale triple with 4:37 to play, broke the ACC single-season record of 275 set in 2007-08 by Maryland’s Kristi Toliver. Allen’s 276 on the year is by far a school seasonal high.
Allen recorded her milestone 100th career assist in NCAA Championship play alone on Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter. Allen now has 109 career NCAA tournament assists to rank fourth in the event’s history. Tonight she surpassed a pair of former UConn stars in Diana Taurasi and Moriah Jefferson who both had 106. Third-place on the list is held by Irish legend Skylar Diggins with 123.
Allen now claims a Notre Dame and ACC record 835 career assists. This sum also moves her up three places into 23rd place in NCAA history.
Allen made her 148th consecutive start, extending what is believed to be an NCAA record. Allen’s 148 total career starts is a Notre Dame record.
Happy Homecoming For Boley
Erin Boley returned to her old Kentucky home tonight. The Hodgenville native was the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year at Elizabethtown High School in 2016. Was was Miss Basketball 2016 in the Bluegrass State. It is Boley’s first game in Kentucky with Notre Dame. The Irish will play at Louisville next season.
Boley started in place of the injured Brianna Turner and scored 14 points, one off of her career high. She snared a career-high nine rebounds as well.
Notre Dame will face No. 2-seed Stanford at noon on Sunday for a trip to Dallas for the Final Four. ESPN will show the game live nationally. The game will be a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 upset of the Irish by the Cardinal, also played at Rupp Arena.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.