Notre Dame depth helps eliminate Duke from ACC tourney

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A leading script writer couldn’t have fashioned a better opening game for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team in its first test in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

The second-ranked and top-seeded Irish dominated outmanned Duke in all phases of the game — defense, shooting, rebounding and bench play. That domination led to an easy 83-54 quarterfinal pasting of Duke, a team that played Notre Dame closely early in February.

The victory moves the Irish (29-1) into a noon Saturday semifinal matchup with No. 21 Miami, after the Hurricanes posted a surprisingly easy 74-56 triumph over No. 4 seed Florida State in Friday’s first quarterfinal game.

The Hurricanes (24-7), the No. 5 seed, fell to Notre Dame, 90-69, on Feb. 14 at Purcell Pavilion.

Should the Irish gain their 30th victory in the matchup Saturday, they will play for the ACC postseason title at 12:30 pm Sunday. The Irish are after their third consecutive ACC postseason crown after winning the title in their first two years in the league.

After a slow start Friday, Notre Dame outscored Duke, 48-24, in the second and third quarters and again was able to have its bench players log a lot of minutes. The Irish bench outscored the Duke bench, 42-20, enabling ND coach Muffet McGraw to rest many of her starters.

“I thought Hannah (Huffman) and Kristina Nelson really came in ready to help,” McGraw said.

So did freshmen Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale. They scored 14 points each to lead the Irish.

Veterans Michaela Mabrey and Madison Cable added 11 points each, while sophomore Brianna Turner scored 10 and grabbed seven rebounds — the same number Huffman grabbed, to go with three assists and six points. Nelson scored eight points and grabbed a career high six rebounds.

Nine different Irish players scored in the first half, and the Notre Dame defense held Duke to 31 percent shooting. The Blue Devils were hampered by the loss of redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell and her 15.1 scoring average. Greenwell has a back injury and did not play.

Duke coach Joanne McCallie obviously was disappointed, and thought that points in the paint were a big factor.

“It was us not defending. We let them score easily,” she said. “And our perimeter play obviously was suspect.”

The Irish outrebounded Duke, 44-32, no easy task against a Blue Devil frontcourt that goes 6-foot-6, 6-4 and 6-4. Azura Stevens, the 6-6 Duke sophomore led her team with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Reserve Kyra Lambert added 12 points for the Blue Devils, and Oderah Chidom led her club with 11 rebounds.

McCallie had high praise for Irish grad senior Madison Cable, whose hustle and energy have endeared her to most coaches around the league..

“She is one of the best seniors I have ever seen come out of that program,” the coach said.

A 21-4 Irish run early in the second quarter pushed them from a narrow 14-11 lead to a 35-15 advantage with 3:36 to play in the first half.

“We wanted to push the tempo,” McGraw said. “We didn’t like the slow pace in the first quarter.”

Notre Dame did the same thing to open the third quarter. The Irish raced from a 39-26 advantage to a 51-26 command with 5:35 remaining in the quarter.

No. 2 NOTRE DAME 83, DUKE 54

DUKE (20-12): Azura Stevens 7-17 3-4 19, Oderah Chidom 2-8 4-4 8, Amber Henson 0-3 0-0 0, Angela Salvadores 1-8 0-0 3, Crystal Primm 2-6 0-0 4, Mercedes Riggs 0-0 0-0 0, Faith Suggs 3-4 0-0 8, Kyra Lambert 4-12 1-2 12, Kendall Cooper 0-0 0-0 0, Rebecca Greenwell 0-0 0-0 0, Erin Mathias 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-60 8-10 54.

NOTRE DAME (29-1): Brianna Turner 5-11 0-0 10, Kathryn Westbeld 2-5 0-0 4, Lindsay Allen 2-7 1-2 5, Madison Cable 3-9 2-2 11, Michaela Mabrey 4-8 0-0 11, Arike Ogunbowale 6-13 2-2 14, Marina Mabrey 5-9 3-3 14, Mychal Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Kristina Nelson 3-3 2-2 8, Hannah Huffman 2-2 2-2 6, Diamond Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-68 12-13 83.

Duke 11 13 11 19—54

Notre Dame 14 25 23 21—83

3-Point Goals--Duke 8-22 (Lambert 3-7, Suggs 2-3, Stevens 2-5, Salvadores 1-4, Henson 0-1, Primm 0-2), Notre Dame 7-19 (Cable 3-5, Mi. Mabrey 3-7, Ma. Mabrey 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Allen 0-1, Ogunbowale 0-2). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Duke 32 (Chidom 11), Notre Dame 44 (Huffman, Turner 7). Assists--Duke 11 (Salvadores 3), Notre Dame 14 (Allen 4). Total Fouls--Duke 11, Notre Dame 11. A--3,148.

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (2) shoots against Duke during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, March 4, 2016. Notre Dame won 83-54. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

WHO: No. 2 Notre Dame (29-1) vs. No. 21 Miami (24-7)

WHEN: Saturday at noon (EST)

WHERE: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: ESPNU

INTERNET: WatchND

RADIO: Pulse FM, 96.1

GAME NOTES: Notre Dame’s Madison Cable needs 15 points to join the Irish 1,000-point club. ... Miami is coached by Katie Meier, now in her 10th season with the Hurricanes. ... Miami is led by Adrienne Motley, who scores at 15.8 per game. ... Jessica Thomas averages 11.7 and Keyona Hayes 9.5. ... Notre Dame is 8-1 vs. ranked teams this season, and owns another victory over UCLA, before the Bruins entered the nation’s top 25.