Victory over Louisville a statement game for Notre Dame women's basketball

Ken Klimek
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – Muffet McGraw has waited for a game like this.

Her Notre Dame women’s basketball team played a statement game Monday, dumping No. 12 Louisville, 85-66, on a night of milestones and on a night when almost everything went right.

The Irish placed five players in double figures, shot 50 percent for the game, posted a 50-point first half and held Louisville to 10 points below its season average.

Notre Dame, 22-3, played like it is not ready to relinquish its three-year run as Atlantic Coast Conference champions. The Irish remain tied with Florida State atop the Atlantic Coast Conference – both with 10-1 league records. Louisville is 20-6, 7-4 in the ACC.

“It was just a huge win for us,” said McGraw.

The Irish committed only three turnovers.

“I am so thrilled with the turnovers,'' McGraw said. "Three ties a school record (same as against Maryland in 2007) and none in the first half. I thought that was a mistake when I saw that.”

The Irish were flawless during an 11-0 run in the second quarter that carried them from a 21-16 lead to a 32-16 advantage with 6:26 to play in the second quarter.

McGraw considered it the best quarter of the year.

“We did everything we had to do,” she said.

Notre Dame surged to a 50-28 lead at halftime.

Senior guard Lindsay Allen, named a top 10 finalist earlier in the day for the annual Nancy Lieberman Award signifying the nation’s top point guard, had eight assists to pass Skylar Diggins (a Lieberman award winner in 2012 and 2013) for second place all-time on the Irish assist list.

Allen has 752, 26 behind Irish all-time leader Mary Gavin (1988).

“Lindsay is so important to our team,” said McGraw. “I am glad she was able to make some shots tonight. She is so strong with the ball. I think she will be a great WNBA player.”

It was the 10th straight Irish victory over Louisville and 39th straight home conference victory.

Notre Dame is 29-0 at home against ACC competition.

The Cardinals' Asia Durr showed why she is an All-American, scoring 31 points. Mariya Moore added 18, but Louisville just did not have enough weapons to counter ND's blistering offense.

Arike Ogunbowale led Notre Dame with 22 points, freshman Jackie Young added 16 in her best overall game of the season, Allen scored 15, Kathryn Westbeld 14 and Brianna Turner 11 – all in the pivotal first half.

“Kat (Westbeld) is really playing well,'' McGraw said. "She had seven of eight from the field, four assists — that is amazing. She really facilitates things for us from the high post and she can make that shot. It makes us hard to guard when she is in the game.”

Westbeld still is nursing a sprained ankle and hasn’t practiced since the North Carolina game (Jan. 22) according to McGraw.

“She only plays in games.”

Young was 6-for-8 from the field, 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, grabbed seven rebounds and was the most effective defender on Durr.

Young’s game is coming on strong after some nagging injuries earlier in the season, and her confidence is growing.

“I am her confidence coach,” joked Turner after the post-game news conference.

Durr and Cardinals coach Jeff Walz were impressed with Turner, especially in the 31-point second quarter.

“Brianna Turner did a good job during that time,'' Walz said. "She was putting pressure on us. She got some offensive boards and put-backs.”

Turner finished with a team-high nine rebounds, helping Notre Dame to a 35-33 rebounding advantage.

“This was exciting,'' Turner said. "I thought we put two good halves together. We didn’t let down.”

The Cardinals were hampered when point guard Briahanna Jackson played only five minutes because of back spasms, and second-leading scorer Myisha Hines-Allen played only one minute because of a knee injury.

“But they are a great team,” said Durr. “Brianna, Arike and Lindsay — they just find each other on the court.”

The Irish don't play again until Sunday at home against Georgia Tech.

“It’s a good time for a break,” said McGraw. “We will take Tuesday and Wednesday off. Starting Thursday we will put some new wrinkles in defensively. We are going to look at trapping in the zone and work on our press.”

Only five games remain – three of those at home.

Louisville (20-6): Mariya Moore 7-17 0-0 18, Kylee Shook 1-5 0-0 2,Cortnee Walton 3-4 0-0 6, Asia Durr 10-18 8-10 31, Briahanna Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Bionca Dunham 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Fuehring 0-0 0-0 0, Myisha Hines-Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Ciera Johnson 3-5 1-2 7, Taylor Johnson 1-3 0-0 2, Brianna Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Jazmine Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Jessica Laemmle 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 25-55 9-12 66.

Notre Dame (22-3): Erin Boley 2-7 0-0 5, Brianna Turner 5-11 1-2 11, Lindsay Allen 6-13 3-3 15, Marina Mabrey 1-7 0-0 2, Arike Ogunbowale 8-16 4-5 22, Kristina Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Kathryn Westbeld 7-8 0-0 14, Ali Patberg 0-0 0-0 0, Jackie Young 6-8 4-4 16, Totals 35-70 12-14 85.

Louisville 14 14 21 17 — 66

Notre Dame 19 31 17 18 — 85

3-Point Goals--Louisville 7-20 (Moore 4-12, Shook 0-1, Durr 3-7), Notre Dame 3-16 (Boley 1-6, Mabrey 0-5, Ogunbowale 2-4, Young 0-1). Assists--Louisville 11 (Moore 4), Notre Dame 20 (Allen 8). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Louisville 33 (Moore 7), Notre Dame 35 (Turner 9). Total Fouls--Louisville 16, Notre Dame 13. A--8,325.

Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen (15) guards Louisville’s Taylor Johnson (15) during the second half, Monday, February 6, 2017 in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ