Game 29 Preview: Syracuse

Game 29: #5/5 Notre Dame (25-3, 12-2) at #18/18 Syracuse (20-6, 9-4)
 When:  Monday, Feb. 25 | 6 pm ET
 Where:  Syracuse, N.Y. | Carrier Dome
 Watch:  ESPN2
 Listen:  Pulse FM 96.9/92.1/103.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP)
 Live Scoring:  Sidearm
 Notes:  Notre Dame | Syracuse
 Social:  @NDWBB
 Reminder:  Irish have a clear bag policy for the 2018-19 season and moving forward

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On Monday evening, in front of a national audience on ESPN2, the No. 5 Notre Dame women’s basketball team will go for its eighth ranked win on the year when the Irish challenge No. 18 Syracuse. Tip off is set for 6 p.m. ET inside the Carrier Dome. The Irish lead the all-time series against the Orange 32-2, with a 14-1 record at Syracuse. 

Arike Ogunbowale became Notre Dame’s all-time scoring leader on Feb. 21 vs Duke. The senior surpassed Skylar Diggins-Smith’s record of 2,357 career points. In addition, Ogunbowale is just 1-of-5 Irish greats to score over 2,000 points, joining Ruth Riley, Katryna Gaither, Beth (Morgan) Cunningham and of course Skylar Diggins-Smith. Ogunbowale now sits with 2,371 career points.

Coach McGraw has often stated that she boasts a team of All-Americans and any starter can step up on a given day. The starting five represent over 90 percent of the team’s scoring, as all five average over 13.0 ppg – no other team can claim that about their starters.

What’s important to note when comparing the five to other All-American candidates is how well this team spreads the wealth. The team averages 20.3 assists/game which ranks 5th in the nation, as Mabrey, Ogunbowale and Young all average over 4.0 assists/game and rank within the top 8 in the ACC in assists. 

Also keep in mind, Notre Dame’s starters have accomplished great numbers against the nation’s No. 1 rated strength of schedule, in the No. 1 RPI ranked conference in the ACC and with the No. 1 ranked overall team RPI.

With wins over Gonzaga, Drake, Oregon State, Iowa, Marquette, Louisville, Florida State and now N.C. State – the Irish boast eight RPI top-25 victories – that number leads the nation and the next best team (Louisville) by two. Also doubles the amount by Baylor and UConn. The Irish also boast seven top-25 ranked wins and three against the top 10 – both lead the nation.

Two Irish players rank in the top 15 in the nation in shooting percentage, shooting over 60 percent each. In addition, four Irish players rank in the top 60, shooting over 50 percent each.

8. Turner – 61.7 percent
14. Shepard – 60.4 percent
33. Young – 54.8 percent
58. Mabrey – 51.5 percent

Turner and Shepard are the only post duo in the country both shooting over 60 percent. The two towers rank 1st and 2nd respectively, in the ACC in field goal percentage.

In addition, Young continues to be the most efficient guard in Notre Dame’s arsenal. Her .548 shooting percentage ranks 4th nationally among just guards.

As a team, the Irish are shooting 51.6 percent, which ranks third in the country. Also on pace to finish 2nd all-time in Notre Dame history. The 1987-88 team holds the top spot at 53.2 percent.

Only two players in all of the ACC came claim they rank in the top in six different statistical categories in league play only. The answer: Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard and Duke’s Haley Gorecki.

Shepard ranks 9th in Scoring (16.3), 3rd in Rebounds (9.9), 2nd in FG% (.603), 9th in FT% (.807), 2nd in O-Reb (3.5) and 4th in D-Reb (6.3).

Jessica Shepard has achieved 12 straight games in doubles figures, as the senior recorded a season best of 12 to start the year. Shepard has earned four double-doubles in the last five games — in said five game span, Shepard has averaged 20.2 points and 12.0 points.

With 23 blocks over the last six games, Turner is averaging 3.8 blocks in the month of February. Only Alexes Bryant of Texas A&M CC and Channon Fluker of CSUN have a better total and average this month.

Turner has collected 40 blocks over the last 11 games, including her season high of five four times. It’s a major reason why Turner was recently named a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist.