Game 13 Preview: Lehigh

Game 13: #2/2 Notre Dame (11-1) vs Lehigh (8-2)
 When:  Sunday, Dec. 30 | 1 pm ET
 Where:  Notre Dame, Ind. | Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
 Watch:  ACCN Extra
 Listen:  Pulse FM 96.9/92.1/103.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP) | Listen Online
 Live Scoring:  Statbroadcast
 Notes:  Notre Dame | Lehigh
 Social:  @NDWBB
 Tickets:  Purchase Online
 Reminder:  Irish have a clear bag policy for the 2018-19 season and moving forward
 Special Event:  Coach McGraw going for win No. 900 of her career

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Thirty-seven years after Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw began her career, the hall of famer will have her first crack at career win No. 900 on Dec. 30. The No. 2 Fighting Irish (11-1) host Lehigh (8-2) this Sunday in their final matchup of 2018 and last tuneup before ACC play begins on Jan. 3. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. ET, with the game streaming live on ACCN Extra.

Plenty of tickets remain available and can be purchased at the Murnane Family Ticket Office or by phone at (574) 631-7356. 

Sitting just one win away from 900 in her career, Coach McGraw is on the door step of another major milestone. She would become the ninth ever women’s basketball coach to reach 900. In fact, McGraw is on pace to become the fourth fastest Division I coach to reach the 900 milestone:
Geno Auriemma 1,034 games
Pat Summitt 1,072 games
Tara VanDerveer 1,104 games

Not all of Coach McGraw’s 899 career wins came at Notre Dame. McGraw began her head coaching career at Lehigh, where she racked up 88 wins in five years. Now, 37 years after win No. 1, McGraw can earn win No. 900 against the very school in which her career began.

Twice now in the past three games, a pair of Irish players have stepped up offensively and each scored over 20 points. The best part is that it’s been four different individuals.

Versus Binghamton, Marina Mabrey and Jackie Young shined by each scoring 21 points. A week later at Marquette, Arike Ogunbowale poured in a career high tying 32 points, while Turner shot 9-of-12 from the field to rack up 20 points.

In 2018, Ogunbowale was named an All-American, an Ann Meyers Drysdale Award finalist, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and the ACC Female Athlete of the Year. With all those accolades under her belt, Ogunbowale still achieved a career first on Dec. 23, earning a second ACC Player of the Week award in the same season. 

Ogunbowale picked up her fifth career ACC weekly honor, previously winning just once in each of her last three seasons, and again this year after she helped the Irish knock off then No. 15 DePaul in November.

Stretching from her final shot at Toledo to her first two shots at Marquette, Jessica Shepard made 17 consecutive field goals which tied Carey Poor’s record set back in March of 1994.

Against Binghamton, Shepard went 8-for-8 from the field. It marked the first time in four seasons an Irish player shot 8-for-8 from the field (or better). Shepard then followed that for a 6-for-6 night against WKU.

After earning an 87-63 victory at No. 19 Marquette on Dec. 22, the Irish moved to 4-1 against top-25 opposition. That alone is a great start to the season, but then you see that Notre Dame is averaging more points in those ranked games at an impressive 91.0 points per game, with a scoring margin of +14.8. Furthermore, Ogunbowale, Young and Turner all possess higher scoring averages against ranked teams.

Shepard posted a 15-point, 18-rebound, double-double at Marquette on Dec. 22. Her 18 rebounds marked her highest rebound total in an Irish uniform and was just two shy of her career high set at Nebraska. The performance also marked her second 15+ point, 15+ rebound performance of the season.

Prior, Shepard achieved a 16-rebound, 15-point double-double at No. 15 DePaul. It was the first 15-point, 15-rebound, performance since Brianna Turner (29/18) at North Carolina on Jan. 15, 2015.

The Irish shooting over the last three games has been nothing short of dynamic – three straight games shooting over 55 percent from the field: 55.7 percent vs Binghamton, 69.8 percent vs WKU and 59.7 percent vs Marquette. As a result, the Irish have raised its shooting percentage from .489 to .518, which ranks fourth in the country.

The Irish boast three players in the country’s top-50 for shooting percentage: Shepard ranks 13th nationally at 62.1 percent, Turner is 25th at 59.1 percent and Young is 47th at 54.8 percent. Both Shepard and Turner have seen a huge shooting surge over the last three games. Shepard has raised her field goal percentage from .571 to .621. Meanwhile, Turner has shot 18-of-23 in that span (78.3 percent), raising her scoring average to 14.7 points per game.

— ND —