Notre Dame women cruise in NCAA tournament opener

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — They moved the ball well. They defended even better. They made a lot of shots and got a lot of stops early to run away with this one long before intermission.

A No. 1 seed for the eighth straight season, Notre Dame won its 10th straight game Saturday, 92-50, over Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the NCAA tournament at Purcell Pavilion.

Jessica Shepard had 22 points with 13 rebounds and Brianna Turner added 19 points and nine rebounds. Arike Ogunbowale had a team-high 23 points.

Notre Dame (31-3) advances to Monday's second round to face the winner of Saturday's second game between No. 8 Central Michigan and No. 9 Michigan State. Tip time for Monday was expected to be announced later Saturday.

With no Bethune-Cookman starter over 6-foot-1, the game plan for Notre Dame was easy — go inside early and often. To Shepard, who scored the game's first basket five seconds in, then followed with a layup at the first-quarter horn to give the Irish a 29-12 lead. To Turner. To anyone with size and skills in the post. If the Irish weren't getting easy buckets, they were getting to the foul line.

Shepard and Turner combined for 20 points barely three minutes into the second quarter. At that point, Bethune-Cookman had managed 12. An 18-0 scoring spurt to open the second quarter put this one away.

Thirty of Notre Dame's 51 first-half points came in the paint. The Irish reserves played the final 6:49.

Notre Dame never trailed and had assists on nine of its first 10 baskets. The Irish hadn't played in 13 days, but seemingly picked up where they left off in winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game for the fifth time in six seasons.

Notre Dame's Brianna Turner (11) goes up for a shot next to Bethune-Cookman's Angel Golden (24) during Saturday's first round women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in South Bend.