Notre Dame women's basketball vets step up to dump Duke

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — A few defining moments sometimes can characterize a season.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team had enough of those moments Thursday night to defeat Duke, 62-58, in a game crucial in the standings of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Irish improved to 19-3, 7-1 in the ACC and kept pace with Florida State. The defeat left Duke at 17-4 and -3 in the league. Florida State won Thursday night to move to 8-1 in ACC play. Louisville and North Carolina State are a step behind – each with two losses in the league.

The Irish were powered by veterans Brianna Turner (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Lindsay Allen, who scored only two but had 12 assists and played exceptional defense on Duke standout Lexie Brown

Brown scored 22 points, but was slowed by Allen in a pivotal play at the end of the third quarter and then much of the fourth.

Allen forced a turnover from Brown near the end of the third quarter, fed Marina Mabrey for a basket to push the Irish ahead to 48-46, a lead they would never relinquish.

But the defining moments were many.

The Allen-forced turnover from Brown was one.

A jump shot by Erin Boley gave Notre Dame its first lead, 40-39, midway through the third quarter.

Another came with with 3:29 to play when Kathryn Westbeld scored to put the Irish up 60-51 with 3:29 remaining. Her basket came after she grabbed two consecutive offensive rebounds, two of her seven in the game.

She then found Turner with an assist pass and Turner's layin gave the Irish a nine-point lead and the game was decided.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “Bri was phenomenal. And Kat with her offensive rebounds helped burn some clock. It was incredible.”

Westbeld hadn’t practiced all week. Recovering from an ankle injury, it was uncertain until game time if she would even play.

Boley, who would have played in Westbeld’s absence, was ready.

“She (Boley) had a great week of practice,'' McGraw said. "She is getting a lot more confident. She is picking things up really quickly. But to not have Kat at all, I don’t know if we could have won the game.

Allen’s 12 assists tied her career high. She has 725 in her career, two shy of Niele Ivey, who is in third place on the all-time ND assist chart.

Brown led Duke with 22 points and was a constant pain in the Irish side.

“Our plan was to face-guard her,'' McGraw said. "We couldn’t find anybody to do it until Lindsay guarded her late.”

Ali Patberg and Jackie Young shadowed Brown early, but both picked up two quick fouls.

Notre Dame made good use of Turner working the high post against the Duke zone defense — especially in the final quarter.

“Credit Turner for just a great game,” said Duke coach Joanne McCallie. “We didn’t take away her ability to get to the basket to make all those layups.”

McCallie praised Brown.

“Lexie had a great game. She is in terrific condition, playing 40 minutes — maybe that is too much. She sure did a lot for having so many defenders coming at her.''

The Irish allowed 24 points in the opening quarter and trailed 24-17. But after allowing Dukie to shoot 55.6 percent in that opening quarter, Notre Dame clamped down, limiting the Blue Devils to 34 points the rest of the way and holding them to 39.1 percent shooting for the game.

“To get back to even at halftime (35-35) I thought was a major accomplishment,” said McGraw. “We knew we had to buckle down defensively.”

From a 46-46 tie, Notre Dame went on a 16-5 spree that doomed Duke.

“Their run was getting three or four offensive rebounds. It's hustle play after hustle play,” said McCallie. “The game was taken on the boards.”

McGraw agreed. “When you get offensive rebounds they get deflated. It’s just a confidence killer for the other team.”

Notre Dame plays again Sunday, hosting Virginia at noon. Assistant coach Beth Morgan will be inducted into the Notre Dame Ring of Honor that day.

DUKE (17-4): Lexie Brown 8-19 2-2 22, Leaonna Odom 5-8 2-5 12, Rebecca Greenwell 3-9 3-4 11, Oderah Chidom 3-6 1-2 7, Kendall Cooper 1-2 0-0 2, Kyra Lambert 1-8 0-0 2, Erin Mathias 1-4 0-0 2, Lynee Belton 0-1 0-0 0, Crystal Primm 0-0 0-0 0, Faithy Suggs 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 22-57 8-13 58.

NOTRE DAME (19-3): Brianna Turner 9-15 7-8 25, Marina Mabrey 4-15 0-0 9, Arike Ogunbowale 3-11 2-2 9, Kathryn Westbeld 3-7 0-0 6, Erin Boley 2-5 0-0 5, Jackie Young 2-4 0-0 4, Lindsay Allen 1-5 0-0 2, Kristina Nelson 1-2 0-0 2, Ali Patberg 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 25-64 9-10 62.

Duke 24 11 11 12 — 58

Notre Dame 17 18 15 12 — 62

3-Point Goals-Duke 6-15 (Brown 4-9, Greenwell 2-5, Lambert 0-1), Notre Dame 3-16 (Mabrey 1-8, Ogunbowale 1-5, Boley 1-2, Westbeld 0-1). Assists_Duke 11 (Brown 4), Notre Dame 17 (Allen 12). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Duke 37 (Odom 7), Notre Dame 41 (Turner 12). Total Fouls-Duke 15, Notre Dame 14. A-8,309.

Duke’s Oderah Chidom (22) shoots past Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner (11) during the Duke at Notre Dame women's basketball game at Purcell Pavilion Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA