Mabrey, Ogunbowale key No. 5 Notre Dame rout of Tar Heels
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Since becoming No. 5 Notre Dame’s de facto point guard because of injuries, junior Marina Mabrey and the Irish have been on a roll.
”I think the past two games we really showed how we can share the ball and that’s nice to see,” Mabrey said after season highs of 25 points, eight assists and five steals keyed Notre Dame’s sixth straight victory, a 94-62 triumph over North Carolina Thursday.
”I like the unselfishness we showed out there,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said after her team had a season-high 28 assists on its 37 baskets. Jessica Shepard, who had eight points and eight rebounds, added six assists and Mabrey’s backcourt-mate Arike Ogunbowale had five to go along with 24 points with the help of 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
Kristina Nelson came off the bench to add 11 points for Notre Dame (21-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference.
”We’re getting stops on defense and that pushes us on offense,” said Nelson, who had 11 points in last Sunday’s 100-69 victory at Florida State.
The Irish outshot the Tar Heels (14-8, 4-5 ACC) by 51-34 percent, outrebounded them 46-41 and forced 14 turnovers. Notre Dame outscored North Carolina 48-16 in the paint, 27-12 off turnovers and 10-2 on the fastbreak.
”Notre Dame is a great team; offensively they are just incredible,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. ”Defensively they are deceptive, more than you think they are. We turned the ball over a lot, which we haven’t been doing. They exposed our youth, our inexperience, our weaknesses.”
Jamie Cherry led the Tar Heels with 15 points, Paris Kea scored 13 and Janelle Bailey had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
”I thought we played very well defensively through the first three quarters,” McGraw said. ”Our (2-3) zone was good and we identified their shooters. Defensively, we are more committed and we’re playing harder on defense.”
Notre Dame’s 20th straight victory at home was never in doubt after Ogunbowale hit a 3-pointer for a 5-2 lead just 34 seconds into the game. The Irish led 26-11 after the first quarter and doubled that lead at halftime, 51-21.
The Irish led 69-37 going into the final quarter despite enduring a scoring drought of 2:36 in the third quarter. Ogunbowale then hit three straight 3-pointers during a 12-3 run that gave the Irish an 81-40 lead with 7:31 to play.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels have played only five games on the road, all in the ACC, and are now 1-4 heading home where they are 11-4. Head coach Sylvia Hatchell, who won her 1,000th game against Grambling at Chapel Hill on Dec. 19, was feted before the game by fellow Naismith Hall of Fame coach McGraw, whose team showed no mercy afterward.
”That’s the way the game goes,” Hatchell said. ”That was the most physical game we’ve had all year – basically the bodies and the contact. Gosh at halftime they had two fouls. I had a kid (Jaelynn Murray) foul out (with 5:38 left in the third quarter) and she had more fouls than their entire team.”
Notre Dame: Since losing at Louisville 100-67 on Jan. 11, the Irish have outscored their six ACC opponents 544-351. Coming off a 100-69 victory at Florida State last Sunday – the first time ever they have scored 100 points against an AP Top 10 team – the Irish jumped to a 51-21 halftime lead.
”They are always good offensively,” Hatchell remarked. ”They have excellent size and their system is very good. You take one thing away and they make you pay for it somewhere else.”
Already without four scholarship players – Brianna Turner, Mychal Johnson, Mikayla Vaughn and Lili Thompson – with season-ending ACL injuries, the Irish saw senior forward Kathryn Westbeld take a blow just under her right eye late in the third quarter, ending her night. Westbeld, who had a career-high 21 points with 12 rebounds against Florida State, had six points and five rebounds in 23 minutes and left the Purcell Pavilion holding an ice bag to the injury.
”We’ve had a doctor and an opthamologist look at her already,” McGraw said. ”There’s no structural damage. It’s just swollen shut. So she’ll be day-to-day.”
North Carolina: Hosts Miami Sunday.
Notre Dame: Visits No. 19 Duke Sunday.