Notre Dame struggles with slowdown, but gets by BC

Ken Powtak
Associated Press

BOSTON — The fact that No. 3 Notre Dame was slowed by Boston College was a surprise.

The Fighting Irish made sure there was no shock.

Marina Mabrey scored 14 points and Brianna Turner had eight points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to help Notre Dame win its ninth straight game, 63-50, over the deliberate Eagles on Thursday night.

Facing a team that wanted to slow the pace and limit the number of transition baskets, the Irish ended up well off their average of 83.4 points.

But they had a couple of timely 3-pointers and held off a pesky team.

"I think in a game like this when they're trying to slow the ball down, we don't like that pace and we struggle with that pace," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "It throws us off our rhythm. We shot the ball OK, but it's a frustrating game to play. We want to score 80."

Madison Cable added 11 points, and Lindsay Allen had 10 for the Irish (16-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Freshman Mariella Fasoula led Boston College (12-4, 0-3) with 20 points.

"I think it was definitely challenging for us to get back on our rhythm," Allen said. "It was definitely tough to adjust to that pace."

Notre Dame was held under 50 percent shooting (26 of 53) and committed 16 turnovers.

"We tried to frustrate them and take them out of the things they do really well," BC coach Erik Johnson said.

The Irish led by double digits at halftime, and were hardly threatened.

"Yeah, I felt like we were in control," Allen said. "I just felt like it was a very slow pace. I felt like we could have done more things to get our energy up and get our offense going."

The Irish pushed their 12-point halftime edge to 42-25 on Cable's jumper in the lane midway through the third quarter. BC cut it to single digits before Notre Dame put it away with a 7-0 spurt capped by Cable's 3-pointer from the right wing.

Notre Dame won the two meetings last season by 33 and 46 points. The Irish are 43-1 since joining the ACC.

Notre Dame scored the final 10 points of the first half to take a 32-20 lead. Marina Mabrey capped the spree with a 3 from the right wing with 10 seconds left.

Both teams played tough man-to-man defense in the opening half, limiting the number of open looks. The Eagles did have some success getting the ball inside to Fasoula, who had 12 points.

Notre Dame was 5 of 9 from 3-point range after entering the game leading the nation in 3-point percentage at a 44.5 percent.

The Eagles dropped to 3-15 in conference play over the past two decades against Notre Dame, dating to time in the Big East.

Notre Dame hasn't lost since falling to top-ranked Connecticut, 91-81, on Dec. 5. The Irish look to continue their league dominance this season, but understand it takes motivation.

"We can't just have energy for the upper opponents," Allen said. "I think we have to challenge ourselves more."

Johnson was happy with the performance of his 6-foot-4 freshman center Fasoula against Turner, one of better post players in the country.

"I was proud of Mariella," he said. "She was able to match Brianna Turner's intensity."

Fasoula went 9-for-17 from the floor with four rebounds.

Next: Notre Dame hosts No. 13 Tennessee on Monday and Boston College is at No. 22 Duke on Sunday.

Notre Dame's Madison Cable tries to dribble through the defense of Boston College's Alexa Coulombe (13) and Kelly Hughes (23) during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Notre Dame won 63-50. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)