Treading water in the first half minus all-time ACC assists leader Lindsay Allen, Notre Dame pulled away with a 51-point second half Saturday afternoon in an 84-73 victory versus Louisville in the semifinal of the ACC Tournament.
The 29-3 Irish face No. 3 seed Duke in Sunday’s title game that is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on ESPN2. It was also Notre Dame’s 11th straight win over the Cardinals (27-7).
Sophomore Fighting Irish guard Marina Mabrey finished with 26 points, tallying 13 of Notre Dame’s first 26 points and then opening with a nine-point flurry on a trey and two basket-and-one conversions in the opening minutes of the second half to take the Irish from a 33-33 halftime deadlock to a 44-37 lead. She finished 9-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-6 beyond the arc, and moonlighted during the first half in a point guard role.
Allen, who finished with 10 assists in her second straight game (with only three total turnovers), picked up her second foul with 35.2 seconds remaining in the first half, which sidelined her the remainder of the first half, other than the final seconds of each quarter so she could run a play.
Helping keep the Irish even in the first half minus Allen was a 9-0 advantage in score at the foul line and committing only two turnovers compared to the Cardinals’ 10.
After the early 11-4 second-half spurt by Notre Dame, Louisville never was able to regain the lead but kept within striking distance with 11-of-21 three-point shooting, 6-of-11 by All-ACC pick Asia Durr (26 points) and 4-of-5 by Kylee Shook (16 points). Durr’s three right before the horn left Louisville with only a 58-55 deficit going into the fourth quarter.
After making only 11-of-31 from the field (35.5 percent) in the first half, Notre Dame opened the second half a blistering 16-of-22, including eight straight makes at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. The Irish finished the second half 18-of-29 (62.1 percent) and used that hot shooting to gradually gain separation.
In addition to Mabrey, junior forward Brianna Turner (8-of-11 from the floor) and freshman guard Jackie Young (5-of-10) each finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while junior Arike Ogunbowale netted 13.
1.Stat Of The Day — Louisville finished with 18 turnovers while Notre Dame had five. In the regular season win over the Cardinals on Feb. 6, the Irish tied a school record with only three turnovers. In the first-round victory versus Virginia, Notre Dame had merely eight turnovers to the Cavaliers’ 17. The Irish are plus-22 in that department in the tournament.
2. Mabrey’s Road Show — The sophomore sharpshooter continued her proclivity for being at her finest on the road in tight contests. In the last five contests away from Purcell Pavilion, she has averaged 20.6 points, converting 34-of-64 from the field, including 14-of-30 from three. Her clutch shooting avoided upsets at Clemson (84-80 on Feb. 16) and at Syracuse (85-80 on Feb. 19). She also was the top player in road losses to NC State and Tennessee, and starred in the win at Miami.
Younger players sometimes falter when away from the comforts of home, but Mabrey’s mental toughness emerges.
3. Louisville Slugger — The freshman Young had probably her breakout performance this year in the Feb. 6 victory versus the Cardinals with 16 points (6-of-8 shooting) and seven rebounds (four on offense), and she followed that with another excellent effort off the bench with 16 points (5-of-10 shooting from the floor) and five rebounds, which tied for most on the team.
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