Jan. 29, 2017
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Every time Virginia got close, Sunday, No. 8 Notre Dame had a response.
The Cavaliers battled back to tie the game four times in the second half, but the Irish never broke.
Marina Mabrey finished one away from her career high with 26 points and Notre Dame used a late 9-0 run to beat Virginia 82-74.
The Irish were on offensively, shooting 50 percent against the nation’s seventh-best field goal defense, and scoring the second-most points Virginia has allowed this year.
But it was the other end of the floor that coach Muffet McGraw still wants to see improvement.
”I’m really pleased with the offense, I think defensively, we just have so much work to do,” McGraw said. ”Most of it is just attitude. We have to get the attitude that we want to defend.”
Arike Ogunbowale scored 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers, for the Irish (20-3, 8-1), who moved back into a first-place tie atop the ACC standings with Florida State.
Ogunbowale hit three early 3s as the Irish started 7 of 8 from the field and also hit their first six 3-pointers, all in the first quarter.
”Arike was making like every shot,” Mabrey said. ”She got us going on offense and I think people were attacking better and we were making our shots.”
Jocelyn Willoughby scored 16 points and J’Kyra Brown had 14 points and five steals for Virginia (14-7, 3-5), which went scoreless for nearly six minutes of the fourth quarter. Lauren Moses also had 14 points for the Cavaliers.
Brianna Turner totaled nine points and eight rebounds, all in the second half after only playing six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
Irish point guard Lindsay Allen finished with 11 rebounds and 10 assists to match Mary Gavin’s 1988 school-best streak of three straight games with 10 or more assists.
Virginia started the second half with an 8-0 run to tie the game, 41-41, but the Irish responded with a 9-0 run of their own.
”We got off to a slow start, but we competed the rest of the game,” said Virginia coach Joanne Boyle. ”We keep finding ourselves in that situation, where we’re in every game, but we’re not finishing out games.”
Breyana Mason’s 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter again tied the game with just under seven minutes left, part of an 11-1 Cavaliers run to open the final quarter.
But they would miss eight straight field goals while the Irish scored the next nine points to again go up by nine. They finished it out from the free throw line, with Mabrey going 10 of 12.
RING OF HONOR
Former Notre Dame All-American Beth Morgan (Cunningham) was inducted into the Irish ring of honor during a ceremony after the game. Morgan is second on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 2,322 points and helped lead the Irish to their first Final Four in 1997.
Morgan, currently an assistant coach with the team, is the fourth women’s player inducted into Notre Dame’s ring of honor, joining Skylar Diggins, Niele Ivey and Ruth Riley.
Virginia: Coming off a shocking 76-27 home win over No. 17 Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers were allowing an average of 45.3 points over their last four games, but couldn’t duplicate that defensive performance against Notre Dame, which had 44 by halftime.
”They shot the ball really well tonight,” Boyle said. ”We were slow to their shooters.”
Notre Dame: Playing consecutive home games for the first time since Dec. 7, the Irish improved to 28-0 in ACC play at Purcell Pavilion.
Irish forward Kathryn Westbeld, still struggling with a right ankle injury, was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Erin Boley. McGraw said Westbeld wasn’t supposed to play at all, but went to her during key moments, like in the fourth quarter after Virginia tied it, 65-65. Westbeld had four points in nine minutes, including a layup at the shot clock to put the Irish ahead by five with 2:52 to play.
With three blocked shots, Turner took over sole possession of second place all-time at Notre Dame, and Allen moved past Niele Ivey into third all-time in assists at Notre Dame.
Virginia: The Cavaliers host a pair of games next week, beginning with Georgia Tech on Thursday.
Notre Dame: The Irish hit the road again to face Virginia Tech on Thursday.