Brianna Turner shrugs off foul trouble to lead Notre Dame out of TCU

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – What a difference a half makes.

What a difference Brianna Turner makes.

Struggling to a 37-34 lead at halftime, a segment when Turner played only four minutes because of foul trouble, everything changed with the Notre Dame junior forward back in the lineup in the third quarter.

Turner scored 16 of her 18 points after the break, opened up the Irish inside game and Notre Dame outscored Texas Christian University 55-25 in the second half to post a 92-59 victory, the sixth straight for the Irish.

“Bri made a huge difference when she was back in the game,” said McGraw. “I think she gives everyone confidence because now we have another way to attack teams. Teams have to worry about the inside which opens up the outside.”

TCU coach Raegan Pebley agreed.

“She absolutely did (make a big difference),'' she said. "She did great things in transition. She is such a great target. They can just throw it up for her and she can finish.”

If the Irish are No. 1, TCU looked like 1A in the first half.

“TCU is a really good team,” said McGraw. “They have a lot of weapons – great shooters – they play hard on defense. They are going to win a lot of games.”

The loss to the Irish was TCU’s first after four victories.

It was a patented Irish run in the third quarter that turned the game around.

TCU stayed with the Irish for the first three minutes of the third quater, then the Irish unloaded a 17-3 run that got the crowd roaring and put the Horned Frogs back on their heels.

As instrumental as Turner was to the Irish posting their sixth straight victory, senior guard Lindsay Allen was a quiet force. She finished the game with a career high 12 assists, some on lobs to Turner.

In fact an assist in the second quarter by Allen to Jackie Young was the 600th of Allen’s career. She joins Skylar Diggins, Niele Ivey and Mollie Peirick as the only Notre Dame players with 1,000 career points and 600 assists.

Pebley credited Allen for being a major part of the Irish run.

“I like her selflessness,'' she said. "I don’t think she took a shot in the first half. She knew when Bri came in that’s when you are going to win games, by getting Brianna the ball and she did a great job of that.”

Yes Allen knew what to do with the ball. It was her getting it inside to Turner that also opened up the potent Notre Dame outside game and helped allow the Irish to six of nine 3-point shots in the second half.

“They have to worry about the inside, which opens up the outside – so Arike (Ogunbowale) gets free for a couple of threes and Marina (Mabrey) for a couple,” said McGraw.

Freshman Erin Boley kept up the barrage, hitting three-of-four 3-pointers. She finished with 10 points. Ogunbowale led Notre Dame with 19, Turner 18 and Mabrey 17.

Ogunbowale also had seven rebounds, the same as teammate Kathryn Westbeld.

“The coaches get on me about rebounding,” said Ogunbowale. “They know I can rebound. I just have to work at it.”

The Irish finished with six players in double figures. Westbeld had a hot third quarter on the way to a 12-point game, the same number that Jackie Young scored.

If anyone noticed, the Irish future is in good hands. A freshman (Young) and the sophomores Ogunbowale and Mabrey accounted for 31 of the Irish 37 first-half points.

But it was Turner and the inside game that clearly made the difference.

“The pressure on the defense to stop the inside game changes things,'' said McGraw. "It helps our rebounding. With rebounding we can get out in transition more. The pushing the ball was a big key in that stretch where we opened up the lead.”

As overpowering as Notre Dame was after the intermission, the Irish had to leave with some respect for TCU.

“They came out fired up. That is what we are going to get — everybody’s best shot,” said McGraw. “They were confident, coming in with nothing to lose and playing very loose. But when we made a run is when they were not able to sustain the emotion.”

There will again be little time for rest. Notre Dame is at Iowa Wednesday night.

TCU (4-1): AJ Alix 6-13 1-2 16, Jada Butts 1-6 6-6 9, Amber Ramirez 3-6 2-2 9, Kianna Ray 4-6 0-0 8, Jordan Moore 3-6 1-2 7, Amy Okonkwo 2-3 1-2 6, Adeola Akomolafe 1-2 0-0 2, Ella Hellessey 1-1 0-0 2, Mikayla Christian 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Danielle Rainey 0-1 0-0 0, Toree Thompson 0-2 0-0 0, Carol Willie 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 21-48 11-14 59.

Notre Dame (6-0): Arike Ogunbowale 6-17 2-2 19, Brianna Turner 7-10 4-5 18, Marina Mabrey 6-13 2-2 17, Kathryn Westbeld 5-7 2-2 12, Jackie Young 5-11 2-2 12, Erin Boley 3-4 1-2 10, Lindsay Allen 1-3 0-0 2, Kristina Nelson 0-4 2-2 2, Mychal Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Diamond Thompson 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 33-71 15-17 92.

TCU 22 12 16 9 —59

Notre Dame 22 15 29 26 —92

3-Point Goals-Notre Dame 11-20 (Ogunbowale 5-6, Boley 3-4, Mabrey 3-7, Westbeld 0-1, Young 0-2), TCU 6-11 (Alix 3-5, Butts 1-3, Okonkwo 1-1, Ramirez 1-1, Christian 0-1). Assists--Notre Dame 23 (Allen 12), TCU 14 (Alix 5). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Notre Dame 45 (Ogunbowale 7), TCU 21 (Moore 7). Total Fouls--Notre Dame 16, TCU 22. A-8,174.

Notre Dame freshman Jackie Young (5) shoots over TCU’s Toree Thompson (1) and Jordan Moore(22), Saturday during a 92-59 Irish win at Purcell Pavilion. (Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)