No. 4 Notre Dame Explodes Past No. 24 Florida State, 97-70
When Arike Ogunbowale starts “feeling it” on the basketball court, turn out the lights for the opposition and light up the scoreboard for Notre Dame.
After Oguunbowale was mired in a shooting slump the last four games — 20 of 61 overall (.328) and 4 of 21 (.191) from three while the Irish went 2-2 — the law of shooting averages began coming back to the mean for her during Notre Dame’s 97-70 victory versus No. 24 Florida State on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
Often a slow starter, the ACC’s leading scorer (21.0 points per game) converted her first four field goal attempts during an opening quarter onslaught, drained her first five attempts beyond the three-point line for a team high 27 points, ran the lethal Notre Dame fast break superbly and also paced her squad in rebounds (nine) while handing out five assists, mostly off the fast break.
“She looked like she was enjoying herself out there,” said head coach Muffet McGraw of Ogunbowale. “We did some things in practice yesterday to get her the ball early. I think we’ve been remiss trying to set her up early enough in the game ...She got some really good looks. That definitely set the tone for the rest of the day.”
“I’ve been kind of laid back, I guess, so to speak,” Ogunbowale said of her recent slump. “Just be aggressive from the tip and try to get any opening I can get.”
Senior Jessica Shepard added 26 points and eight rebounds to balance the inside-outside combination.
The victory improved No. 4 Notre Dame, which will likely drop this week after the 72-65 loss at Miami on Thursday, to 22-3 overall and kept it in a second-place tie with Miami and North Carolina State in the ACC with a 9-2 league ledger. Florida State is now 20-4 overall and 8-3 in the conference.
In a remarkably fast-paced first quarter that saw the Irish take a 28-22 lead after 10 minutes while not committing a turnover (and only four in the game by the starters), Notre Dame still had some lapses on the defensive end with Florida State converting four treys in the opening 10 minutes and finishing 9 of 22 there.
“It’s frustrating,” McGraw said. “We could have put them away really early, we kept giving them threes. They averages three threes a game and they had nine. We’ve got to do better.”
The second and third quarter is when Notre Dame began to gain separation with 24-16 and 22-12 advantages, and a 15-0 run in third quarter provided a 67-40 cushion.
Notre Dame’s fast break was at its best, and Florida State head coach Sue Semrau described the Irish as “the best offensive transition team in the county.”
“We were able to get the break going because we rebounded better,” McGraw summarized. “Arike looked like her old self, Jess did a lot of really good things. I feel like we kind of got it back a little bit — just really got to fix the defense.”
Sophomore forward Mikayla Vaughn suffered a concussion in the first half and was ruled out for Wednesday’s game at Boston College.
1. McGraw Turns Up The Heat
Following the loss at Miami, McGraw blamed herself for the complacency that infiltrated the team, and throughout Sunday’s game she was as animated and vociferous on the sidelines as we have seen her this year, and quite a while.
It was hardly a surprise given her comments following Saturday’s practice in which she stated. "I feel like I'm letting them be average. I'm letting them just kind of be out there playing and not really in high gear. I've got to do a better job subbing, I've got to get more energy into the game.
"If you're allowed to go out and play at a certain pace and stay in the game, you're going to continue to play at that pace. I need to pull them out of the game, let them sit down and think about it for a while — maybe not put them back in for a while. I've done a really poor job subbing."
2. Brianna Bounces Back
After perhaps her worst outing of the year at Miami, senior graduate student Brianna Turner had a quietly stellar effort on both ends of the floor. The 6-3 forward tied her season highs in blocked shots (five) and assists (four), with some nifty passing inside. Above all, she let the game come to her while also finishing with 13 points and six rebounds.
She is not a natural shooter, but was effective when she did have her opportunities down low, converting four of her six field goals and five of her six free throws. When it comes naturally and the ball is not forced in to her, the half-court offense has better movement and flow to it.
3. Pink Zone
During a beautiful halftime ceremony, dozens of the football team members escorted women breast cancer survivors on to the court for the annual Pink Zone game. The mothers of both McGraw and Ogunbowale are such survivors, and Ogunbowale shared that both of her grandmothers passed away because of cancer.