Irish down B.C.

Anthony Anderson | Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND

Notre Dame’s guards stuffed the stat sheet — though not entirely in the way coach Muffet McGraw wanted.

Arike Ogunbowale poured in 24 points and grabbed a career-high five steals, Jackie Young added 18 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, and Marina Mabrey chipped in 14 points and five assists as the top-ranked Irish earned a 92-63 women’s college basketball win over Boston College on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.

What possibly prevented that margin from being even wider was some sloppy backcourt play.

Young matched a season high with six turnovers, Mabrey committed a season-high five and Ogunbowale was one off her season high at four.

“I was disappointed with our guards today to have 15 turnovers out of 18 (as a team),” McGraw said after ND won its 11th straight game.

“I thought the rest of the team took care of the ball really well,” McGraw added. “I thought the posts did their job, (but) just really disappointed in the, I thought, unforced errors and a lot of mental mistakes.”

“I don’t think it’s anything specific,” Ogunbowale said of why the Irish labored, “but we didn’t come ready today.”

Despite the speed bumps — and despite an uncharacteristically minimal scoring advantage over the middle two quarters — Notre Dame never gave up the double-digit lead it had claimed by midway through the first period.

The 32-19 spread after one quarter was due in large part to Ogunbowale, who had struggled in a couple of her recent opening quarters and who is better known for closing-quarter heroics.

The senior All-American, though, pounced against the 2-3 zone that BC tried early.

“I was just taking what they were giving me,” said Ogunbowale who matched her season high of three 3-pointers by the end of the first period, “and they were giving the 3, so luckily I was knocking ’em down today.”

Ogunbowale collected 13 points and three steals in the opening quarter and went 3-of-3 outside the arc during those first 10 minutes.

The Irish (18-1, 6-0) improved to 44-0 all-time in Atlantic Coast Conference home games.

The Eagles (13-6, 2-4) suffered their first loss in seven outings away from home this season.

“I thought we played hard and we tried to play gritty,” BC coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said, “but Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. When they’re open, they knocked down their shots, and when they had to take over the boards in the fourth quarter to kind of show their domination, they did.”

The Irish, who have not been outrebounded during their 11-game winning streak, led BC just 26-25 on the glass through three quarters, but added a 14-6 count in the closing period.

That included Young piling up eight of her rebounds to go with nine of her points in the final quarter as ND expanded a 16-8 lead in second-chance points to a closing count of 25-8.

“Jackie, other than the turnovers, had a really good game with 13 rebounds,” McGraw said of the junior, “and it was great to see her really be aggressive and go to the basket.”

Brianna Turner scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked two shots and finished 7-of-10 from the field for the winners.

Jessica Shepard notched her team-leading sixth double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with a game-high six assists and two blocks.

The Irish largely flipped the pattern by which they’d been constructing most of their wins this season.

Going into the day, ND had outscored the opposition by 4.2 points per game in first quarters and just 1.1 in fourth quarters, primarily with games wrapped up by then.

This time, though, the Irish added a 25-13 fourth period to their 32-19 first period.

On the other hand, they’d been outscoring the opposition by 20.3 points per game in the middle quarters, and had never been less than plus-nine in any win, but they outpointed the Eagles just 35-31.

“I thought my team for being young and on the road in an environment we haven’t been in — we haven’t played in front of that many people this year — played pretty well,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

The crowd was announced at 8,714 on an icy-cold winter afternoon.

Freshman swing Taylor Soule led BC with a career-high 18 points, 11 over her average.

Freshman guard Makayla Dickens added 12 points and five assists, but after going 4-of-8 from the field with three triples in the first half, finished 0-of-5 and scoreless in the second half.

“I thought we did a better job of guarding the 3-point line in the second half,” McGraw said, “and I think that was key, but, of course, we had to play ’em man to man. We really wanted to play more zone, probably could’ve gone back to it, but we’ve been working on man to man, too.”

Notre Dame steps outside the ACC for an ESPN matchup Thursday when it visits Tennessee in the first of three straight road games.

The No. 20 Volunteers (12-5) have lost four in a row for the first time since 1970 and could fall out of the polls this coming week. They host Arkansas on Monday.

Boston College’s Georgia Pineau (5) drives by Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.
Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale (24) drives by Boston College’s Taylor Ortlepp (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.
Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard (32) drives in for a layup in front of Boston College’s Makayla Dickens (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.
Boston College’s Lana Hollingsworth, right, drives in next to Notre Dame’s Marina Mabrey (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday in South Bend.