Dec. 10, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
CHICAGO – Facing its most historically-competitive rival in its illustrious history, the No. 2 Notre Dame women’s basketball team improved to 9-1 on the year by downing No. 16 DePaul, 75-61, on Saturday night at a sold out McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago.
Coming to a cozy venue where the Irish and Blue Demons regularly battle to the wire, Notre Dame used a 14-4 run over the third quarter’s final 4:32 to pull away with a victory over a 6-3 DePaul side whose only three losses have come against teams ranked in the top five (Notre Dame, UConn and Baylor).
Lindsay Allen tied her career high with nine rebounds, falling one short of her first career double-double after adding 14 points. Brianna Turner recorded her fourth double-double of the year – three of them coming against ranked teams – with her 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Arike Ogunbowale led all Notre Dame scorers with 17 points, 13 of them coming in a first quarter where the Irish unleashed some pent up fury over Wednesday’s loss to No. 1 UConn. Mychal Johnson added a season-high 10 points from the bench. Notre Dame held a 48-35 rebounding margin and, in a tightly-officiated game, converted on 17 of its 22 free throws, including 5-of-6 from Marina Mabrey and 6-of-7 from Turner.
Bouncing Back After A Loss
The last outing for the Irish saw the team drop a 72-61 contest at home Wednesday night against No. 1 UConn. Notre Dame has not lost consecutive contests since November 18 and 21, 2010, falling to No. 15 UCLA in double overtime and then No. 9 Kentucky. That run was not destined to change tonight.
Notre Dame trailed 2-0 for 14 seconds tonight before Brianna Turner tied the game with a pair of free throws. Notre Dame never trailed DePaul again. On two other occasions, 33-33 and 38-38, the Blue Demons tied the score, but the Irish would regain their advantage each time, extending the lead to a high of 16 points before settling for the 14-point margin of victory.
Staying In The Game
Notre Dame entered the game with only nine players able to play as Ali Patberg is recovering from an illness and Jackie Young is coming back from an ankle injury. This short bench makes staying out of foul trouble particularly important but a tightly-called contest did not help matters as both teams saw several of its players end up in early foul trouble.
Encouraging for the Irish was how several of its players competed even though four of the nine active players picked up at least a pair of fouls before the break.
One noteworthy example came from freshman Erin Boley. Last year’s Kentucky Miss Basketball picked up her second foul with 7:13 left in the second quarter but Kathryn Westbeld was unable to check into the game in time to get Boley to the bench. Knowing she had to play cautiously did not stop Boley from playing with zeal. Arike Ogunbowale missed a layup on Notre Dame’s next offensive possession. Kristina Nelson got the rebound but missed her put-back attempt as players crashed into the paint. Boley went to the glass, snared Nelson’s rebound and put it back for a 25-20 Irish lead before she was able to exit the contest.
Getting A Lead and Keeping It
The Irish are tough to beat once they gain an advantage in a contest and Saturday night’s contest saw a milestone in this regards. The DePaul game marked the 150th consecutive win for the Irish when Notre Dame led at halftime.
The last time the Irish led a game after 20 minutes but did not win the contest came on Feb. 12, 2012, after the Irish led West Virginia 33-30 at intermission but would go on to lose to the Mountaineers, 65-63. Tonight, the Irish led 33-27 at halftime.
Make it a Dozen
Notre Dame’s win tonight marked its 12th consecutive win on the road, matching Louisville for the second-longest active streak in the nation. UConn’s 27-game road winning streak is the longest in the nation at the moment. Notre Dame will have plenty of opportunities to extend this streak. Tonight’s contest marked the first of a school record six-consecutive road games for the Irish.
Scoring Chart Congested
With 14 points each, Lindsay Allen and Brianna Turner helped clog up Notre Dame’s all-time scoring chart. Allen now has 1,063 points for the Irish, surpassing Madison Cable and Carrie Bates (both 1,060) for 30th place in school history. Turner’s sum tonight gives her 1,057 career points, three fewer than Cable and Bates for 31st in Irish lore and six fewer than her current teammate for 30th.
Notre Dame will take a week off for exams before its road trip continues on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 18, when it travels to Toledo. The Rockets are 7-1 on the season to date heading into a home game tomorrow against St. Bonaventure.
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.