Notre Dame women blitz Lewis in exhibition
SOUTH BEND — It may have been just an exhibition, but it was as wonderfully real as it gets to Notre Dame fans long aching to see Brianna Turner back on the court.
Turner didn’t disappoint.
The two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year who missed all of last season with a knee injury was among a quartet of Irish stars shining brightly on offense as ND made its 2018-19 women’s basketball debut with a 107-65 victory over NCAA Division II Lewis University on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion.
Turner, sporting a padded sleeve on her repaired left knee — but no brace — ran the floor smoothly and did consistent damage on her way to 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 26 minutes. The Irish grad student finished 8-of-10 from the field.
She and the rest of the defending national champs, looking sharp in transition and effective enough in sets, scored the first 13 points of the second half for a 64-31 advantage and led 80-41 by the start of the fourth quarter.
“Great to have her back out there,” junior teammate Jackie Young said of Turner. “She’s a huge presence. To have her back in a game, it’s fun.”
While the ND offense often hummed, the defense was an issue for coach Muffet McGraw.
“No desire to defend,” McGraw said of her team’s performance. “So much to work on on the defensive end. We’re capable, but not willing.”
Young, decidedly assertive, pumped in a game-high 25 points to go with eight rebounds, six assists and a game-high four steals in 27 minutes. She closed at 10-of-12 from the field.
Jessica Shepard was hot as well, connecting on 11-of-13 shots for 23 points in 24 minutes. She added three assists, three steals and two blocks.
Fellow senior Arike Ogunbowale had 14 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
After earning national celebrity status with her buzzer-beating game-winners in both of ND’s Final Four games last spring, the typically timely Ogunbowale chose a runaway exhibition in which to finish just 5-of-17 from the field.
Marina Mabrey sat out the game with a leg injury. McGraw had said a day earlier that the senior point guard’s injury is “not serious,” though Mabrey is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday.
Also out due to a knee issue was sophomore Danielle Patterson, who underwent an MRI on Tuesday.
The Flyers, with four starters back from a 24-8 club last winter, were paced by two-time reigning Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year Jessica Kelliher with 17 points and six rebounds. Rachel Hinders added 16 points.
Notre Dame hit42-of-72 shots from the field overall for 58.3 percent, but was just 1-of-8 from 3-point range, the made triple coming late from freshman Danielle Cosgrove.
Lewis sank 8-of-21 triples on its way to 23-of-61 from the field
Freshman Jordan Nixon got the start at point guard in place of Mabrey. She finished with nine points on 2-of-4 from the field and 5-of-5 at the line. She also committed just one turnover in 25 minutes to go with an assist.
Mikayla Vaughn — like Turner, returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament — came off the bench to grab a game-high 15 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Board the bus
The Irish are planning three bus trips for fans this season, all to Saturday afternoon Midwest games, and the deadline to secure a spot for the first of those contests — on Nov. 17 against DePaul in Chicago — is Tuesday.
ND’s also hosting bus excursions for games at Toledo on Dec. 8 (Nov. 21 deadline) and at Marquette on Dec. 22 (Dec. 5 deadline).
Prices, which include transportation and game ticket, are $42 for DePaul, $50 for Toledo and $52 for Marquette. Departure times also vary.
For more information, contact Patricia McAdams at 574-631-8747 or PMcAdams@nd.edu.