Nov. 25, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
The No. 1 Notre Dame women’s basketball team returns to action at 1 p.m. on Saturday when it plays host to TCU at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish hope the game also ends there. After a bizarre Tuesday night when saw Notre Dame’s 91-51 win over Louisiana-Lafayette end 21 miles from where it began, hopefully a return home brings a return to normalcy.
Here are a few things to think about heading into Saturday’s game.
About the Horned Frogs
TCU stands at a perfect 4-0 on the young season, claiming victories over Incarnate Word, Sam Houston State, SMU and Grambling State, all at home in Fort Worth, Texas.
The teams met on Dec. 12, 2015, at TCU with the Irish taking a 88-72 win. Arike Ogunbowale came off of the bench to lead Notre Dame with 21 points while Kathryn Westbeld collected a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. In all, five Notre Dame players hit double figures in scoring as Ogunbowale and Westbeld were joined by Madison Cable (16), Michaela Mabrey (15) and Lindsay Allen (10).
The Horned Frogs have been able to spread around their scoring and minutes on the young season. Despite averaging 82.0 points per game, no single player has more than Amy Okonkwo’s 14.5 per game while no Horned Frog is averaging more than Amber Ramirez’s 23.5 minutes per game. Jordan Moore (11.0) and Jada Butts (10.0) are also averaging double figure scoring for TCU.
TCU head coach Raegan Pebley is in her third year in Fort Worth after coaching Utah State for nine seasons and Fresno State for two years. This will be her first time facing the Irish as a head coach although she was part of a 1994 victory over Notre Dame while playing for Colorado.
Yet Another Matchup of Undefeateds
As a curious function of opening the season with the 16-team bracketed Preseason WNIT, TCU (4-0) will be the sixth undefeated team to face the Irish (5-0) in its six games so far in 2016-17.
Notre Dame, still undefeated itself, has previously faced five similarly undefeated schools in Central Michigan (0-0), Fordham (1-0), Green Bay (2-0), Washington (3-0) and Louisiana-Lafayette (1-0), defeating each of them.
The first time Notre Dame will face a non-undefeated team this season will be on Nov. 30 when it travels to face 4-2 Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Before the game, Lindsay Allen will be presented with a basketball commemorating her 1,000th career point, a milestone she reached during the Nov. 17 win over Green Bay. While Allen may have been the 35th player in school history to accomplish this feat, it likely will not be long before it is achieved for the 36th time. Brianna Turner has scored 981 points in her Irish career and needs just 19 more to his the milestone.
Notre Dame last had two players reach the 1,000 career point plateau in the same season in 2013 when Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa each hit the millennial mark. Seven other Irish teams also saw two players hit the milestone but the school record of three was set back in 1985 (Trena Keys, Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates).
Notre Dame has seen at least one player reach 1,000 career points in eight of the last nine years with the exception coming in 2014-15.
Mabrey’s Shooting was Ragin’ vs. Cajuns
The joke was that the Irish shot the lights out in Houston in their 91-51 multiple-venue blackout-extended win over UL-Lafayette Tuesday night. Sophomore Marina Mabrey was the primary culprit, scoring a career-high 27 points by connecting on 10-of-15 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Mabrey also had three assists, three steals and three rebounds while making all three of her free throws.
“She did need a game like that,” Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw said on Friday, looking back at the contest. “I think she shot the ball extremely well. Her defense was much better than it has been. Overall, she played a real good game.”
Home Winning Streak
One dependable advantage the Irish will have in their favor on Saturday afternoon is a typically large crowd at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame has won each of its last 34 contests on its home floor and 68 of its last 69 contests at home wrapped around a 2014 loss to UConn.
Coach McGraw Says
On TCU: “They’re really athletic. Everybody shoots threes. They’re going to pressure in the half court. They’re going to press in the full court. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on us defensively. They play a lot of different defenses. They like to run so it’s going to be a very up-tempo game.”
How to Watch/Listen
The first official steps towards the creation of an ACC Network began this summer in conjunction with ESPN. All non-televised home games which used to be streamed live online through WatchND (including Thursday night’s) will now be streamed under the banner of ACC Network Extra. Games are available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers. Saturday afternoon’s game will feature audio from the Notre Dame radio network as called by Bob Nagle.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Thursday night’s game is available here.
Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The audio link for the broadcast is here.
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.