NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 1 Notre Dame women’s basketball team used a strong second half to push past No. 2 Louisville, 82-68, in front of a sold out crowd Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish (15-1, 3-0) outscored the Cardinals (14-1, 2-1) 24-12 in the third quarter to shift momentum after a back and forth first half. Arike Ogunbowale, recently named to the Wooden Award Top-25 Midseason Watch List, was the closer for the Irish as she scored the final 12 points to secure the win.
Ogunbowale paced the Irish with 30 points on the night, including 26 in the second half. Ogunbowale was one of three Irish starters to score in double figures, joined by Brianna Turner (16 pts.) and Jackie Young (14 pts.). The Irish dominated the rebounding battle to a tune of 48-32 which led to 20 second-chance points. Jessica Shepard led the Irish with 15 rebounds, her sixth game this season with 10 or more.
“Both teams had the lead, both teams had to fight back. I was so proud of what we did. We saw a 14-point lead wither away and didn’t panic,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Arike really did some big things down the stretch. We really tried to get the ball to Brianna a lot, with good reason. Overall, a great win, but it’s still early and we have a lot of games to play.”
How It Happened
It was a game of runs in the first quarter as Notre Dame went up 7-5 at the 7:04 mark – followed by a 6-0 Louisville run – then an 8-0 Irish run – and finally a 6-0 Cardinals dash before the game began to settle down. A few buckets from the charity stripe from Shepard, Ogunbowale and Young pushed the Irish ahead 20-19 at the end of the period.
The Cards began the second on an 8-1 scoring spree, forcing a Notre Dame timeout at the 7:11 mark. Though, the Irish only mustered two made field goals for the quarter, they chipped away by getting to the free-throw line. In fact, Notre Dame went 9-of-12 for the quarter and were 17-of-23 at the half, drawing 15 team fouls from Louisville. All-in-all, the Cardinals boasted a slight 35-33 advantage by the midway point.
In the third quarter, Young led the Irish with four points in a 6-0 spurt to retake the lead halfway through the quarter on the back of lockdown defense. The Irish defense held the Cardinals to just 2-for-11 from the floor for the quarter. To end the third, Notre Dame went on a 7-0 run capped by a Ogunbowale three at the buzzer.
The Notre Dame lead grew in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter after an “old-fashioned three-point play” from Ogunbowale. The Cardinals chipped away at the lead and brought it down to 66-64 after a Mykasa Robinson lay-up with 2:41 remaining. Ogunbowale halted the Louisville run with a jumper out of the timeout and closed the game out by scoring the final 12 points for the Irish in the 82-68 win.
Player of the Game
Ogunbowale turned it on after halftime with 26 of her 30 points coming in the second half. She tallied her fifth 30-point game of the season to go along with six assists and five rebounds.
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame posted a +16 rebound margin, out-rebounding Louisville, 48-32. The Irish also posted a season high in made free throws, converting 29-of-39.
- Notre Dame leads the overall series, 15-6, against Louisville, including a 6-2 mark at home.
- Irish are 80-3 in ACC play since joining the league at the start of the 2013-14 season.
- Tonight’s game marked Notre Dame’s eighth No. 1-vs-2 matchup in program history and second win in said scenario. It also marked their first win ranked as a No. 1 in said matchup.
- Tonight marked Notre Dame’s first No. 1-vs-2 matchup not involving UConn since the Irish played at Baylor back on Nov. 20, 2011.
- Ogunbowale has reached double figures in all 16 games this season with her 30-point performance tonight. Dating back to last season, Ogunbowale has reached double figures in 37 consecutive games.
- Ogunbowale scored 26 of her 30 points in the second half. She tied her career high with a 12-for-12 night from the free-throw line.
- Ogunbowale registered her fifth 30-point scoring performance of the season, which sets a Notre Dame record for most in a single season. It also leads all ACC players. She is now up to nine in her career, which is the most of any Irish player in program history.
- Shepard registered her third 15 or more rebound performance of the season with 15 tonight.
- Turner collected three blocks tonight to go with her 16 points. She has now earned 19 blocks over the last six games.
- Vaughn grabbed a career high eight rebounds.
- Irish converted a season high 29 made free throws, finishing 29-of-39.
- Shepard crossed over the 1,000 career rebound total tonight.
- Ogunbowale moved up to the No. 3 spot on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 2,138 career points.
The Irish remain at home to host Wake Forest on Sunday, Jan. 13. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. EST, streaming live on ACCN Extra.