SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Coach Muffet McGraw often calls senior Kathryn Westbeld ”the glue” of No. 2 Notre Dame. On Wednesday, Westbeld held the Irish together against upset-minded Marquette.
Westbeld had 13 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame’s 91-85 overtime victory.
”I thought Kat, in the last of the fourth quarter and the overtime was an All-American,” McGraw said. ”She was fabulous. She made so many big plays.”
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The biggest came with the Irish trailing 73-70 in the fourth quarter with the 6-foot-2 Westbeld on the line for two free throws with 43 seconds left. She made the first, missed the second, but hustled to get the rebound and scored with 40 seconds remaining to tie it.
”Just don’t quit on the play,” reflected Westbeld, who started the season slowly after offseason ankle surgery. ”My mindset is we can’t lose, we’re not about to lose this game, so really just keep attacking. Offensive rebounds are always huge, especially at the end of games that are that close.”
Junior Arike Ogunbowale led Notre Dame (11-1) with 22 points – 17 after halftime. Jessica Shepard, a game after scoring a career-high 39 points, had 13 points and 12 rebounds on a gimpy ankle, while sophomore Jackie Young had 10 points and 10 rebounds playing with a mask to protect a broken nose. Marina Mabrey had 19 points.
”I felt we showed plenty of poise when we got down,” McGraw said. ”We had a lot of opportunities (to win the game), but some breakdowns defensively that cost us and a lot of dumb fouls. We made some mistakes, but we didn’t fall apart.”
Notre Dame survived 17 turnovers, 10 in the second half under heavy pressure by the Golden Eagles during the game that was tied five times and had eight lead changes. Each team had and lost eight-point leads during the game.
The Irish shot 47.9 percent from the floor after starting 30.4 percent and trailing 23-15 after the first quarter. Notre Dame, which led 38-37 at halftime, outrebounded Marquette 51-44 and had 23 assists and six blocked shots. The Golden Eagles shot 40.5 percent for the game.
”They were the more composed team down the stretch and credit them for that,” Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger said after her team, ranked as high as 16th this season, fell to 6-5. ”We took Tennessee to overtime and we took Notre Dame to overtime. Now it’s time for us to take the next step as a program, and what that means is toughness and details.”
Marquette was plenty tough throughout. Notre Dame scored the first six points of the extra session and had a seven-point lead three times, the last with 30 seconds left in overtime. But the Golden Flash went on a 5-0 run before Ogunbowale sealed the victory with two free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
Allazia Blockton led Marquette with 20 points and had 10 rebounds. Erika Davenport had 19 points and 16 rebounds. Danielle King, Natisha Hiedeman and Isabelle Spingola had 12 points each while Amani Wilborn finished with 10.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles, who were ranked No. 16 in the second AP poll of the season, came in with four road losses – to New Mexico, Tennessee (101-99 OT in Cancun, Mexico), Green Bay and Michigan.
Notre Dame: For the second straight game, junior guard Arike Ogunbowale, a Milwaukee native, struggled in the first half. She had just five points on 1-of-8 shooting as the Irish shot 16 of 41 (39 percent), including just 2 of 16 (12.5 percent) from 3-point and beyond.
Marquette: Hosts St. John’s on Dec. 28 in its Big East opener.
Notre Dame: Hosts Syracuse on Dec. 28 in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.