Linsday Allen, Brianna Turner on roll for Notre Dame women's basketball

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – When the highly-acclaimed duo of senior Lindsay Allen and junior Brianna Turner are at their best, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team is more than a handful for opposing teams.

They both have been playing solid basketball during the first four games of the current Irish six-game road trip.

After Allen’s triple-double Tuesday against Chattanooga (11 rebounds, 11 points and 12 assists) and Turner’s 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting, the Irish are building plenty of momentum as they prepare for Thursday night’s matchup with North Carolina State in a contest that opens the Atlantic Conference portion of the Irish schedule.

It will be the fifth of sixth consecutive road games for Notre Dame. The Irish have won 15 straight road games, the second-longest such streak in the nation behind Connecticut (29).

The Notre Dame women have won three straight ACC regular-season championships and the same number of ACC postseason tourney crowns. In fact the Irish have lost only once since their entrance into the ACC – a setback at Miami in December of 2015.

Notre Dame has played with an invigorated mind-set since its loss to Connecticut and will need the same energy when it tangles with the Wolfpack of coach Wes Moore. North Carolina State is 10-3 (8-0 at home).

The Wolfpack boast no high-average starters, but have five players averaging 9.1 points a game or more.

Notre Dame's offense is rolling thanks to Allen, always an efficient, but quiet leader.

“It’s definitely a special moment,” she said after posting her triple double.

It was the first for the Irish since December of last year (and the sixth overall) when then freshman Marina Mabrey logged one against Valparaiso.

“We are so much better when she is on the floor,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw has said of Allen. “I feel much more comfortable when she is running the offense.”

Yet the Irish have been able to give Allen some rest with Mychal Johnson and the again-healthy Ali Patberg getting some minutes at the point.

A “pass-first” point guard in the words of McGraw, Allen and her teammates have been doing yeoman work in finding ways to get the ball inside to their All-American post player in the junior Turner.

Other Irish are playing well, also. Junior Kathryn Westbeld had 11 points and eight rebounds against Chattanooga. She also had four assists, including lobs to Turner for easy layins.

Sophomore Arike Ogunbowale added 13 points for the Irish, who often see four players score in double figures.

The Irish often are among the nation’s leaders in 3-point field goal shooting, but getting the ball into the low post has been a priority – so much so that Notre Dame took only four 3-point shots against the Mocs. In past games and past seasons, the Irish would take that many threes in a matter of minutes. The wing shooters are still there and capable, but Notre Dame has not needed the long-range shot recently.

Turner’s 24 points, combined with 11 from Westbeld and eight more from Kristina Nelson accounted for more than half of the Irish total against Chattanooga.

Notre Dame will return home after the NC State game, but it will be a short stay sandwiched around New Year’s. The Irish complete their six-game road swing with a meeting with Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Jan. 2. Then finally, on Thursday, Jan. 5, Notre Dame again will play at home against Wake Forest.

Notre Dame Forward Brianna Turner (11) drives past Arianne Whitaker (4) of Chattanooga in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Billy Weeks)

WHO: No. 2 Notre Dame (12-1) vs. North Carolina State (10-3).

WHEN: Thursday at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, N.C.

TV: None


RADIO: Pulse FM, 96.9

GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has won all five games in the series with North Carolina State ... Brianna Turner’s six blocked shots against Chattanooga give her 202 in her career. She is third all-time at Notre Dame behind Ruth Riley (370) and Devereaux Peters (227) ... Lindsay Allen’s start at Chattanooga was the 125th of her career. She is third all-time with the Irish behind Skylar Diggins (144) and Alicia Ratay (129) ... Turner’s 24 points against Chattanooga moved her into the scoring lead for the Irish with an average of 15.9 points a game. Arike Ogunbowale is next at 15.1 ... The Wolfpack is coached by Wes Moore. The club is led by 6-foot-2 junior Chelsea Nelson with her 10.4 scoring mark. Four players average between nine and 10 points a game.