Defense delivers for Notre Dame women
BROOKINGS, S.D. — The Notre Dame women's basketball team is known for its offense. The No. 3 Irish impressed coach Muffet McGraw with their defense Saturday in stepping up to hold off pesky South Dakota State 75-64.
The Irish held the Jackrabbits to 33 percent shooting, and McGraw said she thinks her defenders will only get better as the season progresses.
"I thought we did a nice job switching screens," she said. "Even when our guards were down low, we did a really good job with fronting. And I thought the help was really good."
Brianna Turner scored 20 points and Madison Cable added 16 for the Irish (3-0), who stopped the Jackrabbits' 12-game home winning streak at a packed Frost Arena.
A crowd of 5,532 nearly doubled the Jackrabbits' average attendance over the past 15 years. It marked the largest regular-season crowd for the women's team, falling short only of two previous WNIT contests.
South Dakota State (2-1) closed within eight points with just over three minutes left on a 3-pointer by Kerri Young, but she missed her next shot and the Irish stayed in control.
Macy Miller led the Jackrabbits with 23 points and Young had 14.
South Dakota State head coach Aaron Johnston said Notre Dame's size is "tough for anybody," and the Jackrabbits fouled a lot of shooters. Notre Dame made 19 of 28 free throws.
"We fouled enough tonight for a couple of games, really," Johnson said.
McGraw had a season low of 12 turnovers.
The Irish beat South Dakota State 94-51 in their first meeting on Jan. 2, 2014, in South Bend.
McGraw took the courtside microphone after the game to thank the crowd and compliment South Dakota State on its great basketball atmosphere.
The Jackrabbits' previous home loss was last Dec. 10 when they fell to Green Bay 77-75.
South Dakota State led for nearly nine minutes of the first half despite shooting just 29.4 percent from the field. The Jackrabbits retook a 26-24 lead with 3:20 left in the first half before Notre Dame guard Madison Cable singlehandedly put the Irish back on top. Cable made a 3-pointer before stealing the ball from Jessica Mieras at midcourt and sinking a layup to put the Irish up by 3. The Irish held onto the lead for the rest of the game.
Notre Dame plays at Valparaiso on Monday night.
South Dakota State travels to the Virgin Islands to play Pittsburgh on Thursday in the opening round of the Paradise Jam Tournament.
NOTRE DAME (3-0): Brianna Turner 8-12 4-4 20, Kathryn Westbeld 3-8 4-4 10, Lindsay Allen 1-7 2-4 4, Madison Cable 6-9 2-2 16, Michaela Mabrey 3-7 0-0 8, Arike Ogunbowale 3-6 0-2 6, Marina Mabrey 0-0 1-4 1, Taya Reimer 1-5 4-6 6, Mychal Johnson 1-2 2-2 4, Hannah Huffman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 19-28 75.
S. DAKOTA ST. (2-1): Clarissa Ober 2-10 0-0 4, Ellie Thompson 0-7 1-2 1, Kerri Young 6-13 0-0 14, Madison Guebert 1-6 4-5 7, Macy Miller 8-15 5-7 23, Alexis Alexander 1-5 0-0 2, Gabrielle Boever 2-7 3-4 8, Chloe Cornemann 2-2 0-0 5, Jessica Mieras 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-66 13-18 64.
Halftime-Notre Dame 34-31. 3-Point Goals-Notre Dame 4-9 (Cable 2-3, Mi. Mabrey 2-6), S. Dakota St. 7-19 (Miller 2-4, Young 2-5, Cornemann 1-1, Boever 1-3, Guebert 1-4, Ober 0-1, Alexander 0-1). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Notre Dame 43 (Turner 9), S. Dakota St. 37 (Ober 7). Assists-Notre Dame 15 (Allen 5), S. Dakota St. 10 (Cornemann 3). Total Fouls-Notre Dame 16, S. Dakota St. 22. Technical-Allen. A-5,532.