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No. 7 Notre Dame Rolls Past Georgia Tech, 90-69

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Marina Mabrey converted 11-of-14 shots from the field for a game high 25 points.
Joe Raymond

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Notre Dame won for the 11th straight time in league action and seventh overall with a 90-69 conquest of Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon at the Purcell Pavilion in front of a sell-out audience of 9,149. Now 23-3 overall, the Fighting Irish remain tied for first in the ACC with Florida State (both 11-1).

The highlight in the Pink Zone game, dedicated to raise funds for breast cancer research, was Notre Dame’s inside dominance with continuous aggressive drives to the basket and post feeds. Fifty-eight of the Fighting Irish points came in the paint, while Georgia Tech managed only 28.

Sophomore guard Marina Mabrey finished with 25 points, converting 11-of-14 shots from the field, most them on drives while also drilling 2-of-4 beyond the arc. After missing her first two attempts, she found her rhythm, and dished out three assists while committing zero turnovers in 31 minutes.

“Lindsay [Allen] told me to keep shooting and to drive,” Mabrey summarized.

Junior forward Brianna Turner tallied 21 points on 9-of-14 field-goal shooting, and added nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Sophomore guard Arike Ogunbowale posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds (all on defense). Senior point guard Lindsay Allen, who has been more aggressive hunting her shot the past two games, had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor.

After defeating the Yellow Jackets 55-38 on Jan. 2, this contest was much more fast paced with Georgia Tech accumulating more points by halftime — when it trailed 48-39 — than it did the entire 40 minutes in the first encounter. After trailing 19-14, Notre Dame went on an 11-0 run that expanded to 23-6 to take control, just as it did with a 23-2 run in the first meeting. Keeping Georgia Tech in the game was 5-of-10 shooting in the first half from three-point range while the Irish were 1-of-8.

Notre Dame’s plan centered on aggressively attacking the basket with drives, and the Fighting Irish finished the first quarter with 18 of their 22 points coming in the paint. At halftime, 34 of the 48 Irish points were in the paint.

Georgia Tech scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to pull within 71-62, and nearly scored again before a three-quarter drive by Allen also resulted in a Georgia Tech foul and three-point play for the Irish to stem the tide.

Aiding the Irish was an 11-of-19 effort by Georgia Tech from the free throw line — on the heels of the Florida State men’s team converting only 7-of-22 the previous day at the Joyce Center in the loss to the Irish. Allen applied the coup de grace with a three-pointer to up the score to 79-62, part of what would be 9-0 run by Notre Dame.

The Irish are on the road the next week, playing at Clemson on Thursday and Syracuse, last year’s national runner-up, on Sunday.


Three-Point Play

1. Overshadowed — While teammates Turner, Allen and Ogunbowale were among the 20 and 30 players named to national award lists this week, sophomore Mabrey quietly has become an equally effective player with anyone on both ends of the floor.

In 12 ACC games, her 14.5 scoring average is second only to Ogunbowale’s 15.3, her shooting percentage from the floor (.488) is tops among the wings/guards — while converting a team high 27 threes in league play — only Allen has more assists, and Mabrey’s 14 turnovers are the second fewest behind junior Kathryn Westbeld’s 12 (while playing two fewer games). Defensively, she has played “smart,” per McGraw.

2. On The Defensive — McGraw remained disappointed with the inconsistency on the defensive end of the floor. Turner, with some help-side aid, performed well against leading scorer Zaire O’Neil (nine points on 4-of-14 shooting), but Tech guard Francesca Pan easily surpassed her 9.3 scoring average with 24 points, notably 4-of-8 beyond the arc.

“We need to do a better job of identifying who the shooter is,” said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “Defense is still kind of a sticking point with me …it’s a lot of sleepless nights. I know we can do better.”

3. Health Update —Junior guard Mychal Johnson is projected to miss at least one more week of action while recovering from a shoulder injury. Sophomore guard Ali Patberg, already beset by a litany of health ailments her first two years, has been sidelined the past three days with the flu. Junior Westbeld still has not practiced since injuring her right ankle in a Jan. 21 practice, but continues to provide quality minutes. In 17 minutes against Georgia Tech she scored six points and dished out three assists, with no turnovers. She is scheduled for possibly another MRI this month.

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