Six Notre Dame women hit double figures in win over Tennessee

Ken Klimek Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — They just have too many weapons.

That is the best way to explain why the Notre Dame women's basketball team was able to put away No. 13 Tennessee, 79-66, Monday night in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates.

The Irish roared from a 36-29 halftime lead, using a 17-4 offensive burst to take a 59-39 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The lead mushroomed to 25 points at 68-43 with 6:28 to play before a late Tennessee run, fueled by an effective man-to-man press, brought the Lady Volunteers back into respectable range.

“We made some threes, got some rebounds and got the transition going in the third quarter,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team improved to 17-1, won its 10th straight game and protected its No. 3 national ranking.

Notre Dame got solid offensive production with six players scoring in double figures and many playing prominently in big scoring bursts that hurt Tennessee (11-6).

Irish sophomore Kathryn Westbeld scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter, and classmate Brianna Turner had 12 of her 14 points in the second half.

Freshmen Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey continued to impress. It was their collective nine points in the second quarter that sparked a 15-2 Irish outburst.

“Our freshmen continue to play with confidence,'' McGraw said. "They seem to get double figures almost every game.

Ogunbowale finished with 14, and Mabrey added 13. Lindsay Allen and Madison Cable both added 10 points for Notre Dame.

"We did a good job of keeping them in front of us in the first half,” said Tennessee Coach Holly Warlick. “In the second half, we didn't. Sometimes we do not play disciplined and smart. They attacked us (in the third quarter). They ran the back door and we were just standing around.”

The Irish took advantage of 20 Tennessee turnovers and the Volunteer defensive lapses throughout the contest.

“Kat (Westbeld) had some mismatches on her early and took advantage of them,” said McGraw.

“They were doubling down on Bri, so I was open at at the free-throw line and hit some shots,” Westbeld said. She also buried a 3-point shot in the first quarter.

And when the Irish get their transition game going, the points pile up quickly.

Warlick thought turnovers were the big difference in the game.

“We are not as bad a passing team as we are showing,” she said. “The unforced errors hurt. We are not going to win many games when we do that. In the games we lost, our turnovers were in the 20s.”

McGraw was not pleased with the 18 Irish turnovers either.

“We turn the ball over really well,” she said sarcastically. “We need to take care of the ball better. We had two games with only seven (turnovers) – that is incredible. I think we should be around 12, but 18 is way too many.”

Tennessee headliner Diamond DeShields scored 17. Bashara Graves added 13 and Jaime Nared 11.

DeShields said she tweaked her shoulder in the first half, had it taped, and was able to play much of the second half.

Looking ahead to resuming Atlantic Coast Conference play (the Irish host Syracuse on Thursday), McGraw noted there was plenty to work on.

Upset with her team's play at the end of the first and fourth quarters were foremost in her mind.

“We feel we do all right against a zone press, but we need to work on our offense against a man-to-man press,'' she said. “At the end of the game nobody was moving. We were making Lindsay (Allen) do everything. And I think our defense and rebounding always can be better.”

“We didn't have the urgency in the fourth quarter, we missed some free throws and just got sloppy,” the Irish coach added.

Yet the victory never seemed to be in doubt after the first quarter. The Irish held the Volunteers to 29 first-half points, and then used that backbreaking 21-10 third quarter to put the game out of reach.

It was a special night for Ogunbowale. Many of her high school teammates (Divine Savior Holy Angels High of Milwaukee, Wis.) were in the crowd. They played at South Bend St. Joseph earlier in the day.

“No they didn't win,” she said. “It was good to see them.”

The win for Notre Dame was the fourth against a ranked team.

After Thursday's home game with Syracuse, the Irish host Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon.

TENNESSEE (11-6): DeShields 7-13 2-2 17, Graves 5-9 3-4 13, Carter 1-6 0-0 2, Russell 3-5 0-2 6, Nared 4-8 2-4 11, Reynolds 4-8 1-2 9, Moore 0-2 0-0 0, Dunbar 1-1 0-0 3, Cooper 0-3 0-0 0, Middleton 2-8 0-0 5. Totals 27-63 8-14 66.

NOTRE DAME (17-1): Brianna Turner 7-10 0-0 14, Lindsay Allen 2-9 6-7 10, Madison Cable 4-8 0-0 10, Michaela Mabrey 1-4 0-0 2, Kathryn Westbeld 6-7 0-0 13, Arike Ogunbowale 4-8 5-6 14, Marina Mabrey 4-7 5-6 13, Mychal Johnson 0-0 2-4 2, Kristina Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Hannah Huffman 0-0 1-2 1, Diamond Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-54 19-25 79.

Tennessee 18 11 10 27—66

Notre Dame 15 21 21 22—79

3-Point Goals-Tennessee 4-15 (Dunbar 1-1, Nared 1-2, DeShields 1-4, Middleton 1-4, Reynolds 0-1, Cooper 0-1, Carter 0-2), Notre Dame 4-9 (Cable 2-4, Westbeld 1-1, Ogunbowale 1-1, Allen 0-1, Mi. Mabrey 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Tennessee 36 (Graves 10), Notre Dame 32 (Turner 9). Assists-Tennessee 13 (Reynolds 7), Notre Dame 18 (Allen 7). Total Fouls-Tennessee 22, Notre Dame 17. A-8,961.

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (2)rushes past Tennessee's Jordan Reynolds (0) during the second half, Monday, January 18, 2016 in South Bend. Tribune photo/ BECKY MALEWITZ