Notre Dame women's hoops team routs Michigan State in Reimer return
SOUTH BEND — The Teddy Bear Toss came at halftime. The unmerciful mauling of Michigan State came before that.
Sandwiching an 11-0 burst to start the game with a 16-0 blast to end the opening half, No. 3-ranked Notre Dame roared to a 47-16 lead by intermission of its 90-59 blowout win over the Spartans on a festive Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Jessica Shepard added 19 points and three steals, Jackie Young tallied 13 points, and Lili Thompson popped off the bench with 12 points and a game-high 10 boards as the Irish improved to 8-1.
Before the game, Notre Dame unveiled a gold-lettered banner saluting coach Muffet McGraw on her recent induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Then at halftime there was colorful splash comprised of hundreds of new stuffed bears tossed onto the court by fans for donation to charity.
But that color still paled next to the spectrum of dominance put on by the Irish in the opening half.
ND — playing its first game at Purcell in 25 days after seven straight contests away from home — compiled first-half advantages of 18-2 on points in the paint and 12-2 on points off turnovers.
The Irish shot 64 percent from the field before the break to 19 percent for Michigan State and went 12-of-16 at the line to 2-of-3 for the visitors.
Jenna Allen, a 6-foot-3 junior center from Bedford, paced the Spartans with a career-high 28 points, 24 of them coming in the second half.
Former Notre Dame player Taya Reimer — with primarily Shepard and Kathryn Westbeld taking turns on her — was limited to just four points on 2-of-6 shooting and three rebounds over 18 minutes in her return to campus.
Lexi Gussert scored 11 points for the visitors and Taryn McCutcheon dealt 12 assists.
Michigan State (5-3) got no closer than 23 points in the second half, at 63-40 to end the third quarter, and the hosts stretched their lead to a high of 36 on two occasions in the fourth.
ND beat a Big Ten opponent for the 21st straight time over the last nine seasons and stretched its home winning streak to 12 games dating back to early last season.
The Irish return to action Saturday when they visit the historic Palestra in Philadelphia to face Penn (2-3). Tip-off is at 1 p.m. on the Ivy League Network.
It’ll be ND’s eighth road game already, but will be followed by three consecutive home contests, beginning with a 1 p.m. tip on Saturday, Dec. 17 against DePaul.