SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — As far as Arike Ogunbowale and coach Muffet McGraw were concerned, No. 1 Notre Dame’s 82-68 victory over No. 2 Louisville on Thursday night was just another Atlantic Coast Conference game in January.
“Any game in the ACC is a big win; there’s a lot of great teams and a lot of upsets going on,” Ogunbowale said after scoring 26 of her game-high 30 points in the second half to help the Fighting Irish overcome 18 turnovers to beat the Cardinals in the 59th No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in women’s college basketball history and the second involving Notre Dame this season.
“That was just a great basketball game,” McGraw said after her Fighting Irish (15-1, 3-0) won their eighth straight and first game since regaining the top spot from Connecticut, which beat then-No. 1 Notre Dame 89-71 on Dec. 2 in the last meeting of the top two teams. “For 1 vs. 2, it was everything you wanted to see. It was a great win in terms of the conference, but it’s still early and we’ve got a lot of games to play.”
It was Ogunbowale’s 37th straight double-digit scoring game — she had just five points in Notre Dame’s 100-67 loss at Louisville on Jan. 11, 2018.
Brianna Turner, who missed Notre Dame’s two losses last season to Louisville while recovering from ACL surgery, added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Jackie Young had 14 points and five assists for the Irish, who got 15 rebounds from Jessica Shepard to win the battle of the boards, 48-32.
“We were trying to get the ball to Bri a lot and with good reason,” McGraw said of the height advantage the 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 Shepard gave Notre Dame over Louisville.
Asia Durr scored 29 points and Bionca Dunham had 10 for the Cardinals (14-1, 2-1).
“We just came up a few points short,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I thought our kids played hard. I thought it was a really good basketball game. If you look at the score, it was a 14-point game. If you were there, it was not. We fought.”
The Cardinals cut a 10-point deficit to two twice in the fourth quarter, the last at 68-66 with 1:48 remaining, but Turner’s basket and Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining propelled the Irish to a 14-2 finish.
Ogunbowale, who had a team-high six assists, scored seven of her final 12 points from the foul line as Louisville, which was whistled 28 times for personals and lost Dunham, Arica Carter and Dana Evans, saw Notre Dame finish 29 of 39 from the free-throw line.
“I kept challenging our kids that you can’t worry about it — if you foul out you foul out,” Walz said. “If we have to leave at the start of the fourth quarter because there’s no one left, we’ll get home early.”
Durr, who made 9 of 20 shots from the field but was just 1 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line, scored 19 points in the first half, including 12 straight for her team in a 3:47 span between the first and second quarters en route to a 35-33 halftime lead.
Notre Dame’s biggest lead of the half was four points, 15-11, when Turner converted a pass from Ogunbowale at 3:12 of the first quarter. Durr scored Louisville’s next eight points to make it 19-16 before the Irish took a 20-19 lead on two free throws each by Ogunbowale and Young.
An 8-1 run by Louisville to start the second quarter gave the Cardinals a 27-21 lead and forced McGraw to call a timeout. At that point, Louisville had forced eight turnovers while not committing one.
Louisville’s lead reached seven twice in the second quarter, the last time at 35-28 on Dunham’s layup with 2:38 to play. Notre Dame, which hit just two field goals in 14 attempts (14 percent) in the quarter, closed on a 5-0 run, all from the free-throw line as Louisville forced 11 turnovers.
“We just did not take care of the ball and credit their defense,” McGraw said. “We weren’t getting any flow or rhythm to the offense. And defensively, I was disappointed how we defended Durr.”
Ogunbowale nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Irish a 57-47 lead going into the final quarter. Louisville made just 2 of 11 shots in the quarter and had four turnovers to two by Notre Dame.
“I was just trying to be aggressive; they were getting a lot of fouls,” Ogunbowale said.
Louisville: The Cardinals, who entered the game having forced 185 turnovers in their last nine games, forced 11 in the first 20 minutes against the Irish. Louisville converted them into 15 points. Plus Arica Carter and Dana Evans each had three personals at halftime and Durr drew her third at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter.
Notre Dame: The Irish, who came into the game averaging 89.1 points with the help of 53.1 percent shooting in their last six victories, were held to just 33 points in the first half on 8-of-27 shooting (29.6 percent). But the Irish stayed close with a 29-17 effort on the boards and Louisville’s foul trouble.
STATS AND STUFF
Notre Dame finished the game shooting 44.6 percent (25 of 56) but held Louisville to 38.2 percent (26 of 68) including the 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) effort in the third quarter. . Louisville made just 4 of 20 3-pointers, with Carter, who had made 10 of 15 in her first two ACC games coming in, finishing at 1 for 7 in addition to Durr’s 1 of 8. . Louisville outscored the Irish 25-16 in points off turnovers, but the Irish were 36-32 in points in the paint and were 20-5 in second-chance points and 23-6 on the fast break. . No. 1 has now beaten No. 2 37 times in 59 games. . Notre Dame is now 2-6 in 1 vs. 2 games. . Notre Dame has now won 52 straight conference games (ACC and Big East) in the Purcell Pavilion, which was sold out (9,149) for the third time this season (Connecticut and Lehigh, for McGraw’s 900th win as a coach).
Louisville: Hosts Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Notre Dame: Hosts Wake Forest on Sunday.
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