Notre Dame women's basketball: Mabrey makes Irish go

Curt Rallo
South Bend Tribune


Michaela Mabrey’s turnaround jumper at the 11:31 mark of Saturday’s second half in Notre Dame’s 99-50 blowout of UNC-Wilmington in the women’s basketball season opener put in her double-figure scoring at the time.

The jumper had more significance for what it symbolized.

Mabrey, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, scored a career-high 19 points with six assists.

Mabrey’s effort was a major shift from her freshman season, when she averaged 3.0 points and 10.7 minutes a game. At one point against Wilmington, Mabrey scored her 19th point in her 19th minute of play. Her offensive output, smooth ball distribution and defensive intensity certainly caught the eye of coach Muffet McGraw.

“That’s huge for us, to have Michaela come off the bench and score 19 points, especially, right now, when we’re still searching for the next sub coming off the bench,” McGraw said. “I’ve really been happy with Michaela. She came back (from the summer) in great shape. She’s shooting well. We want her to keep shooting the 3’s. She’s talking more. She’s running the team as much as she can when she doesn’t have the ball. We need her to be able to come in and give us production.

“She seems to be playing with more confidence. She’s looking to score more. We’re encouraging her to shoot it more. She’s always been a really good passer.”

Mabrey was 7-of-13 shooting. She attacked the basket, hit jumpers, and swished a 3-pointer. She also hit 4-of-5 free throws.

“I went on a little run, got some and-ones, got to the basket when my shot wasn’t really falling,” Mabrey said. “I think my teammates set me up really well. Defensively, I tried to pressure the ball as much as I could. I got some steals (two) and some tips. That’s something I’ve really tried to work on.”

Sixth-ranked Notre Dame (1-0) hosts Michigan State on Monday (7 p.m. EST) in the season opener for the Spartans.

Irish sophomore Jewell Loyd, a 5-foot-10 guard, posted the second double-double of her career. Loyd scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Loyd was 8-of-11 shooting and 3-of-5 from the free-throw line.

Kayla McBride contributed 17 points, five rebounds and four assists to the Irish effort.

Freshman post Taya Reimer scored six points and worked for 12 rebounds, and freshman point guard Lindsay Allen scored 11 points and had two assists.

Loyd’s double-double was the second of her career.

“I’m trying to stay aggressive,” Loyd said. “I’m trying to focus on rebounding and trying to get to the right spots.”

While Loyd’s offensive numbers dazzled, McGraw especially liked her defense.

“I was happy with the blocks,” McGraw said of Loyd’s three swats. “I’d like her to do that more. Defensively, she was our stopper last year. Now, she’s really challenging people. She did a good job without fouling. I thought she was in the right spots. I was pleased with her offense, but defensively, I thought she played a really complete game.”

Notre Dame was never threatened. The Irish sprinted to leads of 17-4 and 44-14 on the way to a 51-22 halftime lead. The Irish hit 39-of-62 shots for 62.9 percent.

“We did shoot the ball well,” McGraw said. “We got a lot of lay-ups, but I thought Michaela and Jewell shot it pretty well. I thought offensively we executed really well. We got good shots and we were able to make them.

“I thought it was a good opening game. I was really, really impressed with Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride. I thought they looked in mid-season form. I thought they played well. I thought the freshmen … Lindsay Allen came out and played extremely well in the first game of her career. She shot the ball well and did a nice job defensively and ran the team. Taya Reimer had 12 rebounds, what a great start for a freshman.”

Notre Dame outrebounded Wilmington by a whopping 54-24 margin, which led to a 25-7 edge in second-chance points. The Irish outscored the Seahawks 16-0 in fastbreak points, and owned the paint, 58-24.

But there were issues about the Irish play.

“I thought we got to work on some things defensively,” McGraw said. “I saw a lot of problems, and that’s good, so we can fix them. I don’t know if we can fix them all before Michigan State, but we have some defensive weaknesses that we really need to address. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fix those getting on into December, and certainly by the ACC season.”

At Purcell Pavilion

N.C.-WILMINGTON (0-1): Ryan Flowers 4-6 0-1 8, Nagaiyyah Teague 1-8 2-4 4, Brie Mobley 4-12 4-7 12, Kelva Atkins 6-15 2-6 16, Amber Reeves 0-9 1-2 1, Johanna McMillan 1-5 0-0 2, D’Asia Cain 2-5 2-4 7. Totals 18-60 11-24 50.

NOTRE DAME (1-0): Taya Reimer 3-4 0-0 6, Ariel Braker 2-3 1-1 5, Lindsay Allen 4-5 2-3 11, Kayla McBride 6-11 4-4 17, Jewell Loyd 8-11 3-5 19, Whitney Holloway 0-2 0-0 0, Kristina Nelson 4-5 1-2 9, Madison Cable 1-2 1-1 3, Michaela Mabrey 7-13 4-5 19, Hannah Huffman 1-2 0-0 2, Markisha Wright 3-4 2-4 8. Totals 39-62 18-25 99.

Halftime — Notre Dame 51-22. 3-Point Goals — N.C.-Wilmington 3-17 (Atkins 2-8, Cain 1-2, Teague 0-2, McMillan 0-2, Reeves 0-3), Notre Dame 3-8 (McBride 1-2, Allen 1-2, Mabrey 1-4). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — N.C.-Wilmington 24 (Atkins, Flowers, Reeves 5), Notre Dame 54 (Reimer 12). Assists — N.C.-Wilmington 9 (Atkins 5), Notre Dame 27 (Mabrey 6). Total Fouls — N.C.-Wilmington 20, Notre Dame 24. A — 8,572.


Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen brings the ball to the top of the key during the home opener women's college basketball game between Notre Dame and UNC Wilmington on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, inside the Purcell Pavilion at Notre Dame. Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN