Arike Ogunbowale has off day, but No. 1 Notre Dame still cruises past Wake Forest

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND

For Wake Forest in its matchup against No. 1 Notre Dame, “our focus was really trying to keep them out of the paint and make them take contested jumpers,” Demon Deacons coach Jen Hoover explained afterward.

If you couldn’t tell that it was the Demons’ focus, then that explains how good Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner were for the Irish.

Despite both sitting out the fourth quarter, the two forwards combined for 30 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and 13-of-18 from the field as Notre Dame cruised to a 78-48 women’s basketball victory over Wake on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.

“You can’t shut both of them down,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said on a day the Deacons couldn’t shut either one down, “and I think we’re doing a pretty good of finding them.”

Marina Mabrey, who led all scorers with 18 points and drained 4-of-7 on 3-pointers, was among those finding Shepard and Turner at one end, and appreciating them at the other.

“Defensively, obviously, they’re always there to help out — blocked shots, get rebounds, alter shots,” Mabrey said of the duo. “Then offensively, I know if I dribble in there, get going in transition, they’re always going to be there looking for the ball, ready to shoot. Also, they get great position inside, make the passes easier for us.”

Mabrey dished four assists, while Arike Ogunbowale, Jackie Young and Shepard each dealt five as the Irish passed for 23.

Notre Dame (16-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) showed no signs of letting up in its follow-up to beating No. 2 Louisville, 82-68, three days earlier.

The Irish roared to an 18-0 spread before the Deacons (9-7, 0-3) finally tallied at the 2:12 mark of the first quarter.

The margin was 22-6 after one period, 37-15 at halftime and 60-20 by 2:57 to go in the third quarter as ND outscored the visitors 22-5 to start the second half.

“They were locked in,” Hoover said of the Irish. “It’s tough when you come off a big emotional win like they did against Louisville, but when you’re one of the best teams in the country, you’ve obviously got that focus and that ability with leadership.”

Notre Dame won for the 28th straight time over the last 15 years when playing an unranked team on the heels of beating a top-10 team.

“I was really pleased with the defense, particularly on (Elisa) Penna,” McGraw said of Wake’s leading scorer on the season, one who went into the day averaging 15.4 points, but finished 1-of-12 from the field with five points.

“She’s just a great player, really hard to guard, can score in so many ways,” McGraw said of the Deacons’ lone senior. “We mixed up who was guarding her. Brianna Turner did a good job on her, Jackie did a good job, and a lot of other people helped as well. I thought we did a good job finding her in the zone, and that was No. 1 on the keys to the game.”

Similar to Penna, ND’s premier scorer also had a rugged shooting afternoon.

Ogunbowale, averaging an ACC-leading 22.6 points and coming off a 30-point performance against Louisville, was held to four — ending a string of 37 straight double-digit games — and closed 1-of-11 from the field.

Her roommate, though, expressed little concern about college basketball’s reigning queen of clutch going cold, particularly in a game won by 30 points.

“It happens to everyone,” Mabrey said. “Sometimes you just can’t hit shots. I think she controlled what she can control, and I’m confident the next game she’ll be ready to go. She got the misses out of the way.”

Mabrey added a season-high seven rebounds to her 18 points.

Shepard, despite playing just 18 minutes, finished with 16 points that included 7-of-9 from the field and made all of her season-high four steals during the opening four minutes.

She also pushed her career rebounding total to 1,012, passing Ruth Riley (1,007) for the most ever by a player who’s worn an Irish uniform. Shepard’s first 550 boards came while at Nebraska.

Turner collected a season-high 12 rebounds to go with 14 points in 22 minutes.

“We’d never been outrebounded until the Boston College game,” Hoover said of her team’s last outing, “and today we got outrebounded by 20-something (55-33). That can’t happen.”

The Deacons were playing their second straight contest without No. 2 scorer and rebounder Alex Sharp, averaging 12.7 points and 8.7 boards. The junior’s expected to miss at least four weeks with a broken hand.

Freshman Christina Morra led Wake with 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Sophomore Ivana Raca added 12 points and three steals.

Mikayla Vaughn popped off the Notre Dame bench to score nine points and match a career high with four of her team’s eight blocked shots.

The Irish, who outscored the visitors 52-22 in the paint, finished at 46.4 percent from the field with five 3-pointers to the Deacons’ 28.6 percent with four treys.

Notre Dame improved to 43-0 all-time in ACC home games.

For the second time in their last four home games, the Irish welcomed back a former player as an opposing assistant. Melissa D’Amico, who completed her ND career in 2008, is in her first season on the Wake bench after three years at Yale.

Notre Dame hits the ACC road for just the second time this season when it visits Virginia Tech (13-3, 0-3) on Wednesday.

NO. 1 NOTRE DAME 78, WAKE FOREST 48

At Notre Dame

WAKE FOREST (9-7)

Penna 1-12 3-4 5, Raca 4-11 2-2 12, Udoh 1-4 0-0 2, Conti 2-9 2-3 6, Dickson 2-9 0-0 6, Banks 0-1 0-0 0, Branch 1-6 0-0 2, Jarosinski 1-1 0-1 2, Morra 6-10 1-1 13, Hahne 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 18-63 8-11 48.<

NOTRE DAME (16-1)

Shepard 7-9 2-3 16, Turner 6-9 2-3 14, Mabrey 7-11 0-0 18, Ogunbowale 1-11 2-2 4, Young 2-5 0-3 4, Butler 0-0 0-0 0, Cosgrove 2-3 0-0 5, Patterson 3-10 0-0 6, Vaughn 3-5 3-4 9, Benz 0-1 0-0 0, Nixon 1-4 0-0 2, Prohaska 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 32-69 9-15 78.<

Wake Forest 6 9 13 20 — 48

Notre Dame 22 15 25 16 — 78

3-Point Goals—Wake Forest 4-19 (Penna 0-5, Raca 2-4, Conti 0-1, Dickson 2-7, Branch 0-2), Notre Dame 5-13 (Mabrey 4-7, Ogunbowale 0-3, Cosgrove 1-2, Nixon 0-1). Assists—Wake Forest 13 (Conti 6), Notre Dame 23 (Shepard 5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Wake Forest 33 (Morra 9), Notre Dame 55 (Turner 12). Total Fouls—Wake Forest 11, Notre Dame 10. Technical Fouls—None.A—8,392.

Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner (11) chases down the ball next to teammate Arike Ogunbowale during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wake Forest, Sunday in South Bend.
Notre Dame’s Marina Mabrey (3) drives downcourt in front of Wake Forest’s Raegyn Branch (21) and Elisa Penna (41) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.
Wake Forest’s Raegyn Branch (21) has the ball knocked away by Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.