Notre Dame women's basketball set to meet up with Taya Reimer at MSU

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – The Notre Dame women jump from a Sunday victory over Toledo, perhaps the best team in the Mid-American Conference, to a Tuesday matchup with one of the best the Big Ten has to offer.

Following the impressive 85-68 victory over the Rockets on the road, the Irish must prepare for Michigan State in a game that has a peculiar twist attached to it.

The Spartans, 10-2, but unranked, have a key player in 6-4 graduate senior Taya Reimer, who played for more than two seasons with the Irish. Reimer has started all 12 games and is averaging 9.2 points per outing.

The Reimer saga has been well chronicled. She quit the team in December of 2014 but returned two games later. She finished the season strong and had scored 658 points in her brief career. Reimer scored only 29 more points in limited duty in six games last year – some of the idleness caused by a lingering Achilles heel injury. Then, in December of 2015 she quit again — and decided to transfer.

“We are approaching this as just another game,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, discounting any special feelings about facing her former player. “We are not putting any more into it.”

The Big Ten Network will air the game.

The Irish, 10-1, retained their No. 2 rank with Sunday's victory, sparked by Brianna Turner with 26 points. Marina Mabrey (19), Erin Boley (12) and Lindsay Allen (10) also reached double figures.

The Spartans are led by 5-foot-8 senior Tori Jankoska, who scores at a 22-point-per-game clip.

“She is a great competitor and understands the game,” said McGraw. “She is a little like Kelsey Plum (Washington's star and the Pac-12's all-time leading scorer). We have to know where she is at all times.”

Notre Dame's Jackie Young still is doubtful to see action against the Spartans.

“She practiced yesterday,” said McGraw. “But she struggled. The ankle was still bothering her.”

Notre Dame did get a pleasant surprise Sunday from Ali Patberg, the sophomore point guard who had been out with walking pneumonia.

“Ali is coming along well,” said McGraw. “She didn't look rusty.”

Patberg's three minutes at the end of the game, along with help from others, enabled Allen to log only 32 minutes. She had been playing 40 in many games and McGraw knew she needed to give her some rest.

Pleased with Sunday's offensive performance, McGraw hopes her team can continue to execute the same way. Good ball movement and spacing allowed the Irish to shoot 53.3 percent against Toledo, including a blistering 77.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

Prior to the Toledo game, McGraw thought her club was getting the shots it needed, but just not making them. Sunday they did.

“I was pleased Brianna got 13 shots,” said McGraw. Turner made 11 of those.

This is the third of six straight road games for Notre Dame. After Tuesday's contest against Michigan State, the Irish players will break for Christmas and return Dec. 26 to begin preparations for Chattanooga, scheduled for Dec. 27.

Getting everyone healthy will be a plus for the Irish. Young should be back soon, and with Patberg ready to play again, Notre Dame's rotation can be what the coach envisioned at at the start of the season.

If all are ready for Chattanooga, it will be just in time. Notre Dame sails into Atlantic Coast Conference play starting Dec. 30 at North Carolina State. Currently the ACC has seven teams rated in the top 25 – the most of any conference

Former Notre Dame player Taya Reimer is now averaging nine points a game for Michigan State. (MSU photo/Rey Del Rio)

WHO: No. 2 Notre Dame (10-1) vs. Michigan State (10-2).

WHERE: East Lansing, Mich.

WHEN: Tuesday at 7 pm.

TICKETS: Available.

TV: Big Ten Network

INTERNET: Game can be seen online at WatchESPN.com (formerly ESPN 3) or through the WatchESPN app.tv

RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) in South Bend

GAME NOTES: The Notre Dame-Michigan State series is tied at 8-8, but the Irish have won the last four games ... Sunday’s victory at Toledo was the 13th consecutive Irish road win, tied for the third longest streak in the country. ... Five Irish players average in or near double figures. Sophomore Arike Ogunbowale tops the group at 15.6 points per game, followed by Brianna Turner and her 14.9 mark. Turner leads the team in rebounding with a 7.4 average. ... Michigan State's losses have been to Oregon, 88-55, in Eugene, and at No. 19-ranked Syracuse, 75-64. ... The Spartans have no wins over a ranked team.