Notre Dame gets defensive in win over Oregon State

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the nation for a reason.

Monday night it left its shooting touch at home, starting the game 0-for-9, didn’t execute its half-court offense with the precision demanded by coach Muffet McGraw, finished with a season-low in points, was outrebounded 46-33, but still managed a one-point victory, 62-61, over a skilled and competitive No. 10-ranked Oregon State team at Purcell Pavilion.

Fortunately for the Irish, they did bring along Brianna Turner.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore, seeing her most significant playing time since a shoulder injury sidelined her four games into the season, was her dominant self inside, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking four shots, getting three steals and scoring eight points. And that doesn’t count the handful of tipped or deflected passes she had, helping to keep Beavers 6-foot-6 center Ruth Hamblin under control for most of the game.

The Irish opened a 13-point lead early in the second half at 42-29, but a timeout by OSU Coach Scott Rueck settled down his Beavers, who scored 13 of the next 15 points to bring the game close again.

“We knew they would give us a punch after halftime,” he said. “I told them to stay tough, relax and play their game, and we got back in it.”

The Irish found themselves trailing, 59-56, before a late rally and some defensive stops saved the day for Notre Dame.

“It was a huge win for us on a night when we did not shoot the ball well,” McGraw said. “When we got down three, we didn’t panic.”

Heroes for the Irish were plentiful. Madison Cable led Notre Dame in scoring with 15 points. Freshman Marina Mabrey added 13, and Lindsay Allen added eight — all in the second half.

Allen, a junior, scored four of the last five Irish points, hitting a layup to tie the game at 59. After a free-throw by Turner, Allen hit two more free throws with five seconds to play to make it 62-59. A blocked shot by Marina Mabrey in the final seconds helped save the Irish. As did some late-game defensive play by senior Hannah Huffman. Two free throws by Katie Williams established the final score.

“We have used a four-guard look most of the season,” McGraw said. “Tonight we didn’t use it all, and that is why we looked a little out of sync today.”

McGraw was irked by her team’s inability to rebound against Oregon State.

“If we are going to get outrebounded by 13, I want to play four guards,” she said. “I want more points. They (Oregon State) are the best rebounding team in the nation, and tonight we didn’t rise to the occasion.”

Cable agreed. After scoring 11 points in the first half, she only managed four in the second half.

“They played tighter on me,” said Cable. “But we all have to just crash the boards to create some offense.”

Gabriella Hanson was a thorn in the Irish side all night. Playing four different positions, the 5-11 junior led the Beavers with 18 points. Guard Jamie Weisner added 15 and Hamblin scored 10 and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Hanson (3-for-6) and Weisner (3-for-5) helped the Beavers hit eight 3-pointers, seven of those coming in the second half.

Despite all the negatives, the victory pushed the Irish to 11-1 with Atlantic Coast Conference play starting Wednesday night at home against Georgia Tech (10-3).

Of the last 23 ND games decided by single digits or overtime, the Irish have won all 23 such games.

“I said it would take us to January or February to gel,” McGraw said. "We have so many pieces. We have so many who can play. We have seven who can start. I am a puzzle-maker. I enjoy the challenge. I love working with the pieces but didn’t do it well tonight.

“They are a smart team, a very good team. They like to slow things down. We like to run. Tonight was a battle of tempo, and they won.

But the scoreboard indicated otherwise at the end of the contest.

Oregon State falls to 9-2, with the one-point defeat by the Irish and a three-point loss to 13th-ranked Tennessee the only blemishes on its record.

McGraw will have only one day to work on her “puzzle” before Georgia Tech comes calling and the ACC play begins.

“But we are excited for it,” said Cable. “We (the players) work well together and work hard.”

OREGON STATE (9-2): Katie McWilliams 2-6 2-2 7, Gabriella Hanson 7-13 1-2 18, Jamie Weisner 4-14 4-4 15, Deven Hunter 3-10 0-0 7, Ruth Hamblin 4-9 2-4 10, Samantha Siegner 0-3 0-0 0, Marie Gulich 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 22-60 9-12 61.

NOTRE DAME (11-1): Brianna Turner 3-11 2-4 8, Lindsay Allen 3-10 2-2 8, Madison Cable 6-11 2-2 15, Michaela Mabrey 2-5 2-2 8, Kathryn Westbeld 1-4 0-0 2, Arike Ogunbowale 2-7 1-3 6, Marina Mabrey 4-10 3-4 13, Mychal Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Kritina Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Huffman 1-1 0-0 2, Diamond Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-59 12-17 62.

Oregon St. 13 13 16 19—61

Notre Dame 12 18 18 14—62

3-Point Goals-Oregon St. 8-18 (Weisner 3-5, Hanson 3-6, McWilliams 1-2, Hunter 1-3, Siegner 0-2), Notre Dame 6-9 (Ma. Mabrey 2-2, Mi. Mabrey 2-3, Ogunbowale 1-1, Cable 1-2, Allen 0-1). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Oregon St. 46 (Hamblin 12), Notre Dame 33 (Turner 9). Assists-Oregon St. 12 (Weisner 4), Notre Dame 11 (Allen 5). Total Fouls-Oregon St. 13, Notre Dame 13. A-8,860.

Notre Dame senior Hannah Huffman (24) has found her niche as a defensive force for the Irish. (Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)