Dec. 18, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
TOLEDO, Ohio – After taking a week off for exams and facing a near-record crowd of 5,697 fans at Savage Arena and an 8-1 opponent, the No. 2 Notre Dame women’s basketball team (10-1) fell behind Toledo, 5-0, at the start of the game. The Irish responded with runs of 8-0 and 14-0 before the end of the first quarter to take a 25-11 lead after 10 minutes and carry that momentum to an 85-68 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Brianna Turner turned in one of the best performances of her decorated Irish career, scoring 26 points, three off of her career high. Turner also chipped in eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal. She connected on 11 of her 13 shots from the floor. Turner extended her run of consecutive games scoring in double figures to 29 games as she aims to repeat as the ACC’s Player of the Week.
The always-steady hands of Lindsay Allen dished out eight assists, her seventh time recording at least eight assists in 11 games this year. She also scored 10 points and recorded four steals. Marina Mabrey chipped in 19 points for the Irish while freshman Erin Boley poured in a productive 12 points off of the bench – the second-highest total of her young Irish career.
Kathryn Westbeld turned in a stat sheet stuffing performance, scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds and matching her career high with five assists. Playing in her home state, the Kettering, Ohio native also came up with a pair of steals on the day. Westbeld helped continue an interesting run where no Notre Dame player has lost a game in her home state (outside of Indiana) since 2011.
Post-Exams Run of Success Continues
The academic rigors of Notre Dame are well-known, but exam week hasn’t kept the Irish from producing a steady stream of women’s basketball wins. Today’s win is the 22nd in a row for Notre Dame in its first game played following exam break. Notre Dame has not lost its first game after fall semester exams since 1994 when the Irish were defeated, 91-70, by No. 9 Colorado in a neutral-site game played in Seattle.
Coach McGraw Says
On Brianna Turner: “Brianna Turner played exceptionally well today. She played like an All-American, and she is… We thought we had the advantage inside. We wanted to go in as much as possible, and for her to get 13 shots was pretty good. Making 11 of them was really efficient. It was great to see her have kind of a break-out game.”
With 3:06 remaining in the game, Ali Patberg checked in for Arike Ogunbowale, returning to the Irish lineup for the first time since the Nov. 14 win over Fordham. Patberg had been sidelined since that win over the Rams with a virus and its after-effects. The 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball grabbed a defensive rebound today in her three minutes of long-awaited game action.
Road Run Hits a Baker’s Dozen
Notre Dame’s win today marks its 13th consecutive win on the road, surpassing Louisville (12) for the second-longest active streak in the nation. UConn’s 28-game road winning streak is the longest in the nation at the moment. Notre Dame will have plenty of opportunities to extend this streak. Today’s contest marked the third of a school-record six-consecutive road games for the Irish. Having seen great fan support when Toledo played host to Notre Dame’s 2014 NCAA First and Second Round games at Savage Arena, the school and venue provided the challenge Karen and Kevin Keyes Family head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw had hoped for.
“The crowd was tremendous,” she said of the 5,697 fans in the 7,014-seat venue. “They were really into the game. It was just just a great atmosphere for women’s basketball. The fans here are terrific, and it’s great to see so many people come out to see a good basketball game.”
Not all of those fans were rooting against the Irish, however. Among the noteworthy faces at Savage Arena on Sunday were 2014 Irish women’s basketball alumna Ariel Braker and also former Notre Dame football team quarterback DeShone Kizer. Kizer is a Toledo native who was a three-sport star for the Fighting Irish of Central Catholic High School before heading a couple of hours west to play for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame continues its six-game road trip on Tuesday night when it faces Michigan State in East Lansing. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Breslin Center with Big Ten Network to telecast the contest.
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.