SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — After routing Iowa, Arike Ogunbowale and No. 1 Notre Dame can now turn their attention to their showdown Sunday with No. 2 UConn.
”It’s one of the best rivalries in college basketball,” said Ogunbowale after she scored 30 points and her fellow starters all finished in double figures as the Irish routed 14th-ranked Hawkeyes 105-71 on Thursday night.
It was Ogunbowale’s long jumper in overtime during the NCAA Women’s Final Four that helped the Irish eliminate the Huskies last season . She then beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer two nights later to provide Notre Dame with a 61-58 victory over Mississippi State and coach Muffet McGraw’s second national title at the school
”When we play like that and play together, we’re really unstoppable,” Ogunbowale said after shooting 13-of-21 from the field against the Hawkeyes.
Brianna Turner added 14 points and 11 rebounds while Marina Mabrey had 18 points in her second game after missing the first five contests with a quad injury.
”It was probably one of our better games of the season,” McGraw said. ”I think we still have a lot of work to do defensively. But I was really excited about the assist-to-turnover ratio. That’s the thing that has been missing.”
The Irish had 21 assists on their 40 baskets and committed just nine turnovers as McGraw rested her regulars for most of the final quarter during which the lead reached 39 points.
”Offensively, they are just a juggernaut – there are so many weapons and so many people you have to guard on that team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ”It was their offense which took us out of our game.”
Megan Gustafson scored 26 points with 10 rebounds, Tania Davis had 15 points and Hannah Stewart added 12 for Iowa (4-2), which was outrebounded 49-36 by Notre Dame and committed 18 turnovers.
”(Megan) gave us fits inside,” McGraw said. ”It was a tough matchup for us. We really struggled to guard her.”
For most of the game, McGraw employed a 2-3 zone, trying to front Gustafson with the 6-foot-3 Turner with the 6-4 Shepard behind her. It was Turner’s block of Gustafson early in the third quarter that ended the Iowa center’s 14-for-14 effort over a game and a half and got the Irish rolling.
The Irish never trailed and were up 11 after the first quarter and at halftime. A 20-3 start to the third quarter made it a rout as Notre Dame led 79-48 heading into the final period.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes, coming off a 71-67 loss to Florida State in the championship of the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, started five players who were averaging in double figures, led by the 6-3 Gustafson, the Big Ten’s preseason player of the year. Gustafson, who was 8-for-8 against the Seminoles, made her first six shots against Notre Dame before Turner blocked her first shot of the second half. She finished 11-of-16 from the field in the game and is now 53-of-67 in her last five games.
Notre Dame: The Irish had a 23-19 edge on the boards in the first half with the Turner grabbing seven and Shepard hauling in six. Twelve of Notre Dame’s rebounds in the first half came on the offensive boards – seven total by Turner and Shepard – with Notre Dame outscoring Iowa 14-6 on second-chance points. For the game, the Irish had 25 offensive boards and outscored the Hawkeyes 32-12 on second-chance shots.
Iowa entered the contest averaging 25 assists, the best in the nation, but finished with just 18 against Notre Dame. Twice this season, the Hawkeyes have set school records for assists in a game with 34 against Western Kentucky and then 36 against North Carolina Central. The Hawkeyes now have 143 assists on their 201 field goals. By comparison, Notre Dame, averaging 16.8 assists per game coming in, had 21 assists on its 40 field goals and now has 122 assists on 240 baskets.
The Fighting Irish began their second straight game with the starting lineup McGraw anticipated prior to the season. Senior Marina Mabrey, whose playing time is being limited, was back at the point after missing the first five games with a quad injury.
Mabrey finished with 18 points in just over 23 minutes of action, hitting 6-of-13 from the field including 3-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line. She also contributed five of Notre Dame’s 21 assists, one less than Young, and had two steals, one less than Shepard.
”(Mabrey) makes a difference for us; people can’t back off her because of her shot,” Turner said. ”She opens up the inside for Jessica and me.”
Notre Dame, which used a six-player rotation during last season’s run to the NCAA title because of four season-ending ACL injuries, had 10 of its 11 scholarship players healthy at the start. Freshman point guard Jordan Nixon, who started the first three games in place of Mabrey, missed her fourth straight game recovering from a concussion she suffered at DePaul Nov. 17.
But during the third quarter, freshman guard Katlyn Gilbert, playing with a harness on her right shoulder, left the court after her shoulder popped out. She’s doubtful for the Huskies.
Iowa: Sunday vs. Robert Morris.
Notre Dame: Sunday vs. No. 2 Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic.
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