Notre Dame pushes past DePaul into Sweet 16

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame didn’t need Jewell Loyd to beat DePaul for the second time this year.

Instead, the Irish gave the Blue Demons too many doses of the rest of their starting five Sunday night.

After barely escaping from DePaul with a 94-93 overtime victory in December thanks to Loyd’s 41 points, the Irish junior scored just 10 on 3-of-15 shooting. But junior Michaela Mabrey scored 19 points, Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer each had 14 and Lindsay Allen had 11 as second-ranked Notre Dame ran away for a 79-67 victory in a second-round NCAA women’s basketball tournament game at the Purcell Pavilion.

“Best game of her career,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of Mabrey, who has struggled with her shot most of the season but was on fire Sunday night as Loyd struggled. “Not only on the offensive end but also the defensive end and she also had three big defensive rebounds.”

The fact that her players had Loyd’s back also pleased the Irish coach.

“It’s what we needed,” McGraw said. “We have all these talented players who have been somewhat overshadowed by Jewell at times. I thought we played well together. It was a tremendous team win.”

The victory, Notre Dame’s 19th straight, sends the Irish to Oklahoma City for the regional semifinals. Up next for the No. 1-seeded Irish is either No. 4 Stanford or No. 5 Oklahoma, who play for that right Monday night in Stanford, Calif. The semifinals and championship are being played at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Doug Bruno’s Blue Demons, the Big East regular-season and tournament champions, finish 27-8.

“I’ve just decided to focus on having some fun,” said Mabrey, whose previous high of 20 points this season came against Boston College back on Feb. 8. “This is more of a thrill because it came during a tournament game. When I’m making my first few shots, I play better and usually more loose.”

Mabrey’s 19 came on 6-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line, as Notre Dame blew DePaul away with a 42-point second half. Turner, who left the court late in the first half after hurting her knee on a defensive play, came back to score 14 on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds while Reimer’s 14 came on 6-of-11 shooting. She also had 10 rebounds for her second double-double this season against the Blue Demons. Allen, meanwhile, added seven assists.

Their junior All-American was impressed.

“That’s why we are a team,” Loyd said. “Mike’s a big-time player. I asked her tonight how many 3s she had in her and she said maybe 3.”

The Irish outrebounded DePaul 51-32 but had 18 turnovers to DePaul’s 12. Megan Podkowa 19 points and 11 rebounds for DePaul. Jessica January had 12 points, Brittany Hrynko 11 and Chanise Jenkins 10. The Blue Demons shot 35.7 percent (25 of 70) for the game and made just 10 of 34 3-pointers. With Mabrey leading the way, Notre Dame was 7 of 15 beyond the 3-point line.

The Irish overcame a sloppy start to take a 37-31 halftime lead. Notre Dame had as many turnovers as points at the first media break at the 15:55 mark of the first half as DePaul led 10-6.

The Blue Demons increased the lead to 23-17 at the next break and actually led a couple of times by eight as the Irish still couldn’t get a handle on their sloppy passing. Plus, January was hounding Loyd on one end of the court and hitting both of her 3-point attempts as DePaul was three of six from beyond the 3-point line after going 2-for-20 in the first half of its victory over Minnesota.

The Irish finally pulled even at 24-24 when Mabrey hit her second 3-pointer of the half and Bruno called a 30-second timeout to get his team a breather at 5:26 to play before intermission.

Mabrey’s third 3-pointer gave the Irish the lead 27-24 and then Loyd hit a pair of free throws as Notre Dame made it a 12-0 run over 5:40. DePaul missed six straight shots and had only one in its last nine in a 6:06 drought during which it also made four turnovers.

Hrynko’s 3-pointer finally ended the Blue Demons’ drought, but Notre Dame answered back with Allen’s 3-pointer and the Irish hit five throws down the stretch, the final two by Loyd with 2.6 seconds left for a 37-31 lead at the intermission. It could have been a bigger lead if not for a close-in miss by Reimer and then Loyd inexplicably passing up what looked like an open shot to try to give Turner a shot.

Turner came down awkward and tweaked a knee, leaving the arena, but she was back shooting before the second half and was in the starting lineup.

Mabrey, who had 11 points in the first half with three 3-pointers (in four attempts), hit a pair early in the second half as Notre Dame opened up a 45-35 lead with 17:37 to play. DePaul closed to 47-42 on a 3-pointer by Ashton Millender and a baseline shot by Podkowa, but Notre Dame went on a 10-2 run with Mabrey playing a big role. She drew Podkowa’s third foul on a drive to the basket and made a pair of free throws and then had two defensive rebounds that led to easy buckets by Reimer. The last basket came off a Mabrey feed for a 57-44 lead with 11:39 to play in regulation and Bruno quickly called a timeout.

Bruno needed another timeout to talk defense and rebounding with his team at 7:57. Westbeld scored a couple of baskets after offensive rebounds, Reimer hit a shot from the top of the key, Turner made a pair of free throws after a nasty spill and finally Cable canned a 3-pointer for a 68-49 Irish lead with 7:57 left.Turner then began asserting herself on both ends, redirecting a DePaul shot and then finishing off the resulting fast break for a 71-52 lead. Loyd, who was 2-of-14 shooting at that point, then scored on a layin and Turner took a feed from Allen for an easy lay-in and a 75-55 lead with 3:52 to play.


At Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

DEPAUL (67): Brittany Hrynko 3-16 4-4 11, Megan Podkowa 7-13 3-4 19, Chanise Jenkins 4-10 0-0 10, Jessica January 5-12 0-0 12, Centrese McGee 3-4 0-1 8, Ashton Millender 1-6 0-0 3, Lauren Prochaska 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Schulte 2-5 0-0 4, Mart’e Grays 0-4 0-0 0, Brandi Harvey-Carr 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 25-70 7-9 67.

NOTRE DAME (79): Brianna Turner 6-9 2-4 14, Taya Reimer 6-11 2-4 14, Lindsay Allen 3-8 4-4 11, Michaela Mabrey 6-10 2-2, 19, Jewell Loyd 3-15 4-4 10, Madison Cable 1-5 0-0 3, Kathryn Westbeld 4-5 0-0 8, Hannah Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Whitney Holloway 0-0 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 0-1 0-0 0, TOTALS 29-64 14-18 79.

Halftime: Notre Dame 37, DePaul 31.

Shooting: DePaul 25 of 70 for 35.7 percent; Notre Dame 29 of 64 for 45.3 percent. 3-point shooting: DePaul 10 of 34 (Podkowa 2-2, McGee 2-3, Jenkins 2-6, January 2-6, Millender 1-5, Hyrnko 1-9, Grays 0-1, Schulte 0-2) for 29.4 percent; Notre Dame 7 of 15 (Mabrey 5-7, Allen 1-2, Cable 1-3, Loyd 0-3) for 46.7 percent. Free-throw shooting: DePaul 7 of 9 for 77.8 percent; Notre Dame 14 of 18 for 77.8 percent. Rebounds: DePaul 32 (Podkowa 11, Schulte 5, Hrynko 5); Notre Dame 51 (Turner 11, Reimer 10, Westbeld 7, Allen 5, Loyd 5, Cable 4, Mabrey 3). Assists: DePaul 15 (January 5, Hrynko 4, Jenkins 3); Notre Dame 19 (Allen 7, Loyd 3, Turner 2, Cable 2, Westbeld 2). Turnovers: DePaul 12 (Hrynko 4, January 3, Podkowa 2); Notre Dame 18 (Reimer 5, Loyd 4). Assist/turnover ratio: DePaul 1.25; Notre Dame 1.06. Blocked shots: DePaul 2 (Podkowa 2); Notre Dame 6 (Turner 3). Steals: DePaul 6 (Hrynko 2, January 2); Notre Dame 8 (Loyd 3, Mabrey 2). Total fouls (fouled out): DePaul 17 (none); Notre Dame 10 (none). Technical fouls: None.

Officials: Edward Sidlasky, Bryan Enterline, Karen Preato. Records:

DePaul 27-8, Notre Dame 33-2. A—5,658.

Notre Dame teammates Jewell Loyd (32), Brianna Turner (11) and Michaela Mabrey (23) walk on to the court after a timeout Sunday, March 22, 2015, in South Bend. SBT Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ