Notre Dame women's basketball flashes skills in easy win

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — By definition exhibition means "a display or demonstration of a particular skill."

Notre Dame women's basketball fans, some 8,088 strong, were treated to exactly that Saturday as the Irish flashed the skills that have earned them a No. 3 ranking in the nation with a 101-52 exhibition victory over Wayne State at the Purcell Pavilion. The season begins in earnest a week from today with an afternoon matchup with Bucknell.

"It was a good first game for us," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. "It did show us some things we need to work on. I thought our press had some good moments," she added. "That's as good as our press has looked in a while." Notre Dame forced 27 turnovers, but was whistled for 18 of its own.

The Irish started a bit sluggish but took control with help from Lindsay Allen and do-everything wing Madison Cable. "We were a little excited at first, but settled in," said McGraw. "We tried to force it inside and passed up some good shots." It didn't take too long for the Irish to smooth into its well-know rapid transition game.

Wayne State could not take advantage of the early Irish sluggishness and fell behind 18-8 at the first quarter break, and were trailing 46-25 at halftime.

Allen finished with 11 assists and 10 points, while Cable had 12 points and nine rebounds, seemingly always in the right spot to grab errant shots. She also had five steals. "Cable will be the glue for our team," McGraw said in recognition of Cable's efforts.

"We struggled a bit with Lindsay out of the game. That is something we will have to work on," McGraw said. The Irish lost potential backup point guard Ali Patberg to a knee injury earlier in the week. She will be sidelined all season.

But the Irish veterans were a steadying force. Cable, Allen and Michaela Mabrey only attempted a combined 14 shots. It seemed they deferred to the two aggressive and active freshmen, Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale. Mabrey led Notre Dame with 22 points in her first outing in an ND uniform. She scored 10 straight at one stretch in the second half. Ogunbowale added 14 and her aggressive play opened up other offensive options for the Irish.

Those two freshmen played a big part in a 55-point second half for Notre Dame, now 36-1 in exhibition games, including the last 31 victories in succession. "Those freshmen played really well," McGraw said. "Arike gave us a huge lift in the first half, and in the second half Marina came alive."

Wayne State was led by 5-foot-7 senior Brittany Streetman, who scored 22 points - most coming on deep 3s from the right baseline. She was the only player for Coach Carrie Lohr and the Warriors who finished in double-figure scoring.

One highlight play for Notre Dame came in the fourth quarter when senior Michaela Mabrey fired a pass inside to her freshman sister who converted the layup. Maybe born in their driveway years ago, that play ignited the crowd and pushed the scoreboard to the magic 88-point level that earns the crowd a free sandwich. "We did a lot of that in high school," said Marina. "I was expecting her to throw it."

Highly-touted sophomore Brianna Turner, despite playing only 19 minutes, scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds." All her points came from point-blank range. "Coach always talks about us going inside out (and back)," Turner said. "They did a good job looking for me," she added.

The Irish ran off impressive offensive spurts. The scored 13 consecutive points at one stage of the second quarter, and ran to a 16-4 advantage sandwiching the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter.

Kathyrn Westbeld started in the post in place of junior Taya Reimer, who did not play while still recovering from an Achilles problem, but is expected to be in the lineup for the Bucknell season opener. The sophomore Westbeld scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.

The Irish got additional inside help from the rejuvenated Kristina (Coco) Nelson. Nelson missed last year with a shoulder injury but looked comfortable in her 12 minutes of action Saturday. Nelson scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. "She has been playing that way in practice," said McGraw. "She hit a mid-range jumper and tried to take a charge."

Hershberger honored

Notre Dame provided Bremen native and current South Bend resident John Hershberger with an emotional and well-deserved honor Saturday during the first quarter of the women's exhibition game with Wayne State.

Hershberger, suffering from cancer is a veteran basketball official at the mid-major and smaller collegiate level. One of the things on his dream, wish list was the opportunity to work a Notre Dame basketball game.

With help from conference officials and the teams involved, Hershberger did work the first quarter of Saturday's game. He was saluted and presented a game ball at the end of the quarter.

He played high school baseball in Bremen and also played for Bethel College under then coach Dick Patterson.

• NOTRE DAME 101, WAYNE STATE 52

At Purcell Pavilion

WAYNE STATE (52): Payton Birchmeier 1 0-0 3; Christina Green 3 0-0 6; Kristen Long 1 0-0 2; Brittany Streetman 7 0-0 21; Shannon Wilson 2 0-0 6; Brooke Wallace 1 1-3 3; India Hawkins 3 0-0 7; Nina Foster 0 2-2 2; Ashley Wilson 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 18 5-9 52.

NOTRE DAME (101): Brianna Turner 8 2-2 18; Kathryn Westbeld 3 2-2 8; Lindsay Allen 3 4-5 10; Madison Cable 4 2-2 12; Michaela Mabrey 2 0-0 5; Arike Ogunbowale 5 3-4 14; Marina Mabrey 7 7-8 22; Kristina Nelson 3 2-3 8; Hannah Huffman 1 2-2 4. TOTALS: 36 24-28 101.

Wayne State 8 25 39 52

Notre Dame 18 46 74 101

3-point baskets: Wayne State 11 (Birchmeier, Streetman 7, Wilson 2, Hawkins), Notre Dame 5 (Cable 2, Mic. Mabrey, Ogunbowale, Mar. Mabrey); Total fouls (fouled out): Wayne State 23, Notre Dame 10.

Notre Dame’s Marina Mabrey (3) talks to Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw on the court during the Notre Dame-Wayne State NCAA women's basketball exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, inside the Purcell Pavilion on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN