Patterson ready as Irish women turn back DePaul

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

CHICAGO — Even after Notre Dame’s flood of injuries last season — a gutting that took the Irish down to seven available scholarship players for all of the final three months — there were times that then-freshman Danielle Patterson, one of those seven, didn’t see much action, times she didn’t appear ready for the level of play at hand.

On Saturday afternoon against No. 15 DePaul, Patterson was plenty ready.

She came off the bench to record career highs of 14 points and three blocked shots in 22 minutes as the top-ranked Irish shook off a turnover-speckled first quarter to post a 101-77 women’s basketball victory over the Blue Demons at Wintrust Arena.

“I thought Dani Patterson and (freshman guard) Abby Prohaska really turned the game for us,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought they came in and our defense picked up. Dani had three blocks, Abby had four steals (and a team-high four assists). I thought they gave us a huge lift off the bench, and I’m really excited about that for so early in the season.”

McGraw called Patterson “our most improved player” over the summer after the 6-foot-2 forward had averaged 2.9 points and 12.5 minutes in her first college season. She did play just three minutes over ND’s first two games this season, but was nursing a sore knee.

“She’s just playing with a different mindset (from last season),” McGraw said. “She’s always been a hard worker and she’s always in the gym, and that has definitely helped to give her the confidence.”

“I think it’s confidence,” Patterson concurred of the reason for her improvement after hitting 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 at the line Saturday. “My teammates and my coaches, they really work with us just to make sure we’re doing the things we need to do out there.”

Predicted Patterson of herself, “I think today was just a great start to a great season, so I’m really happy.”

The Irish, in both their first road test and their first matchup with a ranked opponent, improved to 3-0 while dropping the Demons to 1-1.

Notre Dame, playing a third straight game without injured starting point guard Marina Mabrey, outscored DePaul 79-48 over the final three quarters after trailing 29-22 through one period.

Guards Arike Ogunbowale — particularly in transition — and Jackie Young proved sensational in the opening half, putting up 19 points apiece as the Irish progressively settled in to the Demons’ desire for a frenzied flavor.

Young collected game highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds — she was 8-of-14 from the field and 11-of-12 at the line — while Ogunbowale netted 24 points.

“The coaches really prepared us for (DePaul) this week,” Young said. “We were going up and down the floor a lot, and our bench players, I think they did a great job. I think that’s why we were prepared today.”

“I thought Jackie Young was outstanding,” McGraw said, “especially on the boards, 12 rebounds, and a very efficient 8-for-14.”

Jessica Shepard added 15 points and 16 rebounds, eight of them offensive, for the winners, who hammered DePaul 48-23 on the glass.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason,” Demon coach Doug Bruno said after his team was unable to sustain a promising start.

Ultimately, a difference in both size and talent level showed up, according to the coach.

“I talk to WNBA coaches regularly and there’s five people today — Mabrey didn’t play today, so in today’s game four — that are going to play in the WNBA,” Bruno said. “Both their bigs (Shepard and Brianna Turner, who finished with eight points in 16 minutes after missing a large chunk of the first half in foul trouble) are going to play in the WNBA.

“Then we haven’t even talked about Arike, who’s gonna not be just a WNBA player, but a top pick in the (draft), and Jackie’s putting herself in position to be a pro, so those are four really, really good players.”

Perhaps due in part to Mabrey’s absence, the Irish again struggled with taking care of the ball. They turned it over 25 times — one more than last season’s high — and are averaging 20.7 per game after the national champs of a year ago averaged 13.9.

“It wasn’t one person (either),” McGraw said of Saturday’s showing. “We really spread that around pretty evenly. We clearly have a lot of work to do. They play a chaotic style and it’s difficult to prepare for, and you have to constantly be really disciplined and move the ball, and we didn’t do a great job of that.”

Ten of ND’s turnovers came in the opening quarter, but then the Irish added just three more in the second period while outscoring DePaul 32-18. Young (12) and Ogunbowale (10) combined for 22 of those 32 points.

Senior guard Ashton Millender matched her career high with 27 points for the Demons and drilled 7-of-12 from 3-point range, but her teammates combined on just 3-of-20 outside the arc for a team that relies heavily on the long ball.

“Our philosophy was to give them 2s, not 3s, and in the second half, I thought we did a little better job of that,” McGraw said after DePaul made 3-of-11 treys following the break.

The dead-eye Irish were 37-of-62 from the field overall for 59.7 percent with two triples and 25-of-30 at the line for 83.3 percent.

Junior forward Chante Stonewall scored a career-high 21 points for the Demons, but on a day that DePaul — based on the opponent — “needed more from everybody,” per Bruno, starters Kelly Campbell, Mart’e Grays and Rebekah Dahlman all produced significantly below their norms.

Each team heads out of the country for its next three games, albeit in opposite directions.

Notre Dame will be in Canada for the eight-team Vancouver Showcase on Thursday through Saturday.

The Irish face Gonzaga at 3 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving, then meet Rutgers or Drake in a 9 p.m. semifinal or 3 p.m. consolation Friday.

If Notre Dame is in the championship or third-place game Saturday, the Irish will play at 8 p.m. regardless of which contest it is.

No. 10 South Carolina, in the other half-bracket, joins ND as ranked teams in the field.

DePaul is bound for the Cancun Classic in Mexico. The Demons meet Princeton, Kansas State and No. 18 Syracuse on successive days beginning Thursday.

NOTRE DAME (3-0): Shepard 7-13 1-4 15, Turner 4-5 0-0 8, Nixon 3-3 0-0 6, Ogunbowale 8-19 7-8 24, Young 8-14 11-12 28, Cosgrove 0-0 0-0 0, Patterson 5-6 4-4 14, Vaughn 0-0 0-0 0, Benz 1-1 0-0 2, Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Prohaska 1-1 2-2 4, Totals 37-62 25-30 101.<

DEPAUL (1-1): Grays 1-9 5-6 7, Stonewall 9-17 2-2 21, Campbell 1-1 0-0 2, Dahlman 0-5 3-4 3, Millender 10-16 0-0 27, Allen 2-8 1-1 5, Bekelja 2-6 2-2 8, Daninger 0-0 0-0 0, Held 1-2 0-0 2, Morris 0-8 0-0 0, Stovall 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 27-73 13-15 77.<

Notre Dame 22 32 25 22 — 101

DePaul 29 18 18 12 — 77

3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 2-7 (Ogunbowale 1-5, Young 1-2), DePaul 10-32 (Grays 0-3, Stonewall 1-2, Dahlman 0-2, Millender 7-12, Allen 0-4, Bekelja 2-6, Morris 0-3). Assists—Notre Dame 14 (Prohaska 4), DePaul 14 (Campbell 5). Fouled Out—DePaul Campbell. Rebounds—Notre Dame 48 (Shepard 16), DePaul 23 (Stonewall 8). Total Fouls—Notre Dame 18, DePaul 27. Technical Fouls—None.A—2,833.

DePaul’s Tanita Allen, left, has her shot blocked by Notre Dame’s Danielle Patterson Saturdayin Chicago.
DePaul's Dee Bekelja, center, fights for a rebound between Notre Dame's Abby Prohaska, left, and Jessica Shepard Saturday in Chicago.