ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Muffet McGraw noticed some signs of fatigue after Notre Dame won a tournament in Florida last weekend.
The Irish still had enough energy to get past Michigan – and set up a matchup of unbeatens this weekend against No. 1 Connecticut.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 20 of her 32 points in the first half, and No. 3 Notre Dame beat No. 22 Michigan 83-63 on Wednesday night. The Irish were coming off a victory Sunday over South Carolina that capped a three-wins-in-three-days stretch at the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Article continues below ...
”We were really, really tired,” said McGraw, Notre Dame’s coach. ”We looked tired at practice, tired in the game. To find the adrenaline to get us through that game was a great effort.”
The Irish (7-0) earned another impressive win heading into their showdown with No. 1 UConn in Hartford, Connecticut. Notre Dame held Michigan star Katelynn Flaherty to 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting. It was the first time all season she scored fewer than 20.
”That was the key to the game; we had to shut down Flaherty,” McGraw said. ”She’s a great player, great scorer. We did a really good job on her. Everybody had a turn guarding her at some point.”
Jackie Young added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Notre Dame, which has played its last six games away from home.
Hallie Thome scored 24 points for Michigan (4-2). Flaherty had a career-high eight assists on a night when open shots were hard to come by.
Notre Dame led 24-13 after the first quarter. Michigan cut the lead to five on a layup by Thome, but Ogunbowale made a pair of 3-pointers to help the Irish to a 39-30 lead.
”I knew our team needed a little lift, so I was able to knock them down,” Ogunbowale said.
It was 43-34 at halftime and 62-49 after three quarters. Notre Dame then started the fourth with a 14-2 run to break the game open.
Ogunbowale tied her career high in scoring. She also had 32 points against Ohio State in March.
The Wolverines simply had no answer for her defensively.
”I think tonight, they got a taste of one of the best players in the country in Arike,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. ”Now, how can we defend that? Who’s going to make that their mission?”
Notre Dame: The Irish had to rally from double-digit deficits in wins over Oregon State and South Carolina, but Notre Dame avoided that type of hole against Michigan. The Irish began the game with 5-foot-11 Marina Mabrey guarding the 5-7 Flaherty, and that worked well in helping Notre Dame to a fast start.
Michigan: The Wolverines were at their best during a second-quarter stretch in which Flaherty did less of the shooting. Flaherty and Thome are the only Michigan players averaging over 10 points a game, so the question is whether the Wolverines have enough balance to beat top teams that can defend Flaherty well.
ON THE BOARDS
Notre Dame outrebounded Michigan 42-28, which was important on a night when the Wolverines generally took good care of the ball. Michigan had only one turnover in the first half and nine in the game.
”Great teams gotta be able to rebound and gotta be able to take care of the basketball,” Arico said. ”We’ve kind of alternated nights, but this was a good sign for me, because now I know they’re capable of doing that. This was the fewest turnovers we’ve had on the year, and against a real quality opponent.”
Notre Dame: The Irish take on UConn on Sunday.
Michigan: The Wolverines play at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister